Elsa M. Chaney

Elsa will always be the “Big Sister” of domestic workers, to whose cause she devoted nearly half of her life.

Elsa, an academic and Doctor in Political Sciences, first became interested in research. Her most significant contribution was the undertaking of an assessment of domestic service in several Latin American countries. This task was performed with the support of the Ford Foundation and her own contributions. She sacrificed beyond reasonable, especially during the last six years of her life, when she did not decrease her workload despite the fact that she was fighting a serious cancer.

Elsa’s concern for domestic workers was a full commitment. She offered grants or loans from personal funds without being asked. She cared about the health and personal situation of workers and organizations. Until the eve of her death her greatest concern was getting financial support for domestic workers.

Elsa was the best example of how important it is to join strength and experiences. Rectify injustices, especially for the most vulnerable child domestic workers, requires integrating talents: domestic workers, former domestic workers, professionals, employers, families, officials, media, politicians, donors, etc.. All committed and acting for change! This tall American woman, whose nobility of spirit was even higher, was able to create harmony and agreements on a complex and controversial issue.

Elsa had a great sense of humor. During the last stage of her life, she used to repeat frequently “When I leave this planet…”, but at the same time she kept making plans for the future. She died on July 16th, 2000. She was 72. She remains, however, a guardian figure for most domestic workers, and an inspiration for all those who want domestic service to be a dignified and rightful occupation.

Asociación Grupo de Trabajo Redes (AGTR)’s institutional anniversary on July 16th, in memory of our beloved Elsa Chaney.