IDWF dedicates a Memorial Garden to Myrtle Witbooi

On May 12, Mother’s Day, IDWF honored our founding mother and first president, Myrtle Witbooi, in an emotional ceremony held in South Africa, attended by her children, family, friends, fellow activists, comrades from other movements, community members, and authorities. During the tribute, IDWF Vice President, Toindepi Dhure, and the regional coordinator for Africa, Vicky Kanyoka, jointly unveiled a plaque in a Memorial Garden at the Community House of Cape Town dedicated to our late and unforgettable leader.

The event also featured the presentation of the book “Love and Labour”, written by Myrtle’s close friend, Jennifer Fish, which chronicles the life and captures the spirit of a woman who has left an indelible mark on history, not only for her struggle for domestic workers but also for her commitment to all vulnerable and oppressed people. As a fitting closure, the SADSAWU choir celebrated their leader with a poignant repertoire.

Through this tribute, IDWF expresses its infinite gratitude to the pillar of our movement. For over fifty years, Myrtle devoted herself tirelessly to advocating for the rights and protection of domestic workers in South Africa and around the world, overcoming challenges with courage, determination, resilience, love, and empathy. Under her leadership, we gained the adoption of ILO Convention 189, as well as other unprecedented achievements, and built a powerful federation that now has 88 affiliates from 68 countries, representing over 670,000 domestic workers.

We, who are part of the IDWF family, keep Myrtle’s legacy in our hearts and feel the duty to honor it with each of our actions. Her light will always guide us, reminding us that if we remain strong and united, we can build a better world where decent work, dignity, and social justice will finally become a reality for domestic workers in every corner of the globe.

Our voices echo in the words of Toindepi Dhure: “Myrtle Witbooi was more than just a mother, sister, aunt, neighbor, labor activist, or simply an inspiring role model. She was a symbol of hope, a beacon of light in a world often shrouded in darkness. Her legacy will continue to inspire generations to come, reminding us that even in the most challenging of times, the human spirit can prevail.”

May the seeds we plant in the Cape Town Memorial Garden blossom into many more victories to come for domestic workers, just as our beloved Myrtle harvested.

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