SEOUL (UCAN): The International Domestic Workers Federation was awarded the 20th Bishop Tji Hak-soun Justice and Peace Award at a ceremony in Seoul in South Korea on March 14.
Myrtle Witbooi accepted the award on behalf of the union of domestic workers at Sejong Centre for Performing Arts.
“Domestic workers clean, wash, cook, take care of small children and elderly people so that families can go to work and earn a better living,” Witbooi said.
“However, despite the huge contribution they are not considered workers and face discrimination and abuse. This is one of the greatest injustices of the modern day. This award is very precious to us and will give us strength. We will keep working hard to get domestic work recognised as a decent livelihood,” she concluded.
The International Domestic Workers Federation was established in 2013 at a founding congress in Uruguay. It is now a labour union with 58 affiliates in 47 countries, serving a membership of over 500,000 workers.
The award was constituted in honour of Bishop Tji, who was imprisoned during the military dictatorship of the 1970s and early 1980s of the then-president, Park Chung-hee, for resisting the curtailment of civil liberties and freedom of media and speech.
He was bishop of Kwangu.
In 1974, he wrote a declaration of conscience for the sake of the dignity of the person to Pope Paul VI entitled, The restoration of the person, the recovery of democracy.
It reads in part, “As a person, a Christian, a man of faith, as a bishop of the Church I am but a faithful servant of God who loves God, his Church and his country. Rather than follow the will of man I choose to follow the will of God.”
The award recognises individuals or organisations who have contributed to the justice and peace of humanity for giving generously to the cause of freedom and equality of people, while not bowing in the face of oppressive society structures.
It seeks to incarnate a gospel overflowing with peace and love; to make justice flow like a river through the promotion of genuine reconciliation of the tensions and divisions arising from poverty and racism, religion and ideology, nationalism and gender.
It is the only international rights award in South Korea funded entirely by the public.