37 years defending the rights of Latin American migrant women in the UK.

We are a human rights, feminist organisation run by and for Latin American migrant women living in the UK. We support 5,000 women every year who are exposed to violations of their fundamental human rights, facing violence against women and girls, exploitation in low-paid sectors, trafficking, or enduring severe poverty and deprivation.

Our direct support includes casework for women experiencing gender-based violence, counselling and emotional support, advice on benefits, money and debts, employment rights, family law and immigration, workshops and other integration activities.

We also actively advocate for women’s rights, migrant’s rights and the rights of ethnic minorities at local, national and EU levels, working with sister organisations in the women and migrant sectors, as well as networks and campaigns, to tackle the vulnerabilities faced by Latin American women, who are affected by intersectional layers of discrimination.

Our story

The Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) was founded in 1983 by a group of Latin American women who saw a significant gap in the services that existed for women migrating to the UK from Latin America. Their needs were not met by mainstream organisations, and our founders recognised that as women as well as migrants, their experiences were specific and different.

An advice, information and advocacy service was established to inform women of their rights and enable them to access services in a culturally, linguistically and gender specific setting.

Over time, LAWRS has expanded its services to provide a holistic, wide-ranged approach in how we assist women to develop.

LAWRS About Us Our Story 35 Years Defending the Rights of Latin American migrant women in the UK

Our Mission

LAWRS About Us Our Mission

Our mission is to pursue equal rights and social justice for all Latin American women and migrant women in the UK.

Our values

  • We are a feminist organisation and implement feminist principles to all our work.
  • We uphold human rights for all migrant and refugee women and advocate for a system where they are able to fully exercise their fundamental human rights.
  • We uphold equality and social justice and will oppose all forms of discrimination both in society and our workplace.
  • We acknowledge/recognise that some women are more affected than others by virtue of being at the intersection of multiple forms of discrimination and work to counteract this.

  • We support women, reaching out to those who are more disadvantaged including survivors of Violence Against Women and Girls.
  • We want women’s voices to be heard and guide our work with their priorities and needs.
  • We deliver consistently high-quality work, which is based on sound evidence.
  • We believe in collaboration and partnerships and value openness and transparency.

Our team and trustees

LAWRS’ team and Board of Trustees is formed of Latin American women with a variety of skills sharing a feminist perspective, committed to improving the lives of migrant women in the UK.

The Board, chosen every year by our members, is responsible for overall governance, determining LAWRS’ strategic direction, maintaining a long-term overview of the organization and ensuring LAWRS’ financial health and compliance with legal obligations.

LAWRS email

lawrs@lawrs.org.uk

 

Policy and Communications team

Elizabeth Jiménez-Yáñez
elizabeth@lawrs.org.uk

Dolores Modern
dolores@lawrs.org.uk

Volunteers Coordinator

Betsy Terrones
volunteers@lawrs.org.uk

 

Violence Against Women and Girls team

referrals@lawrs.org.uk

 

Counselling team

counsellingferrals@lawrs.org.uk

LAWRS About Us Our Team and Trustees

Our Impact

5,000 women use our services every year, benefiting from practical and emotional support, learning new skills and improving their own opportunities. We strive to provide essential tools for women to empower themselves in their pursuit of personal and social change.

Annual report 2019-2020

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Annual report 2018-2019

35 years Anniversary Report

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Annual report 2017 – 2018

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Annual report 2016 -2017

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Latin Americans in the UK

Latin Americans in the UK: A growing community

The Latin American community is one of London’s fastest growing groups, with 113,500 in 2008 growing to 250,000 in 2016, of which 145,000 live in London. Fleeing economic crises, increasing numbers of Latin Americans are coming from Spain, Portugal and Italy, and two- thirds have arrived since 2000. The largest national groups of this 50-year old community are Brazilians, Colombians, Ecuadorians and Peruvians. In general terms, the Latin American community is young and in working age, with an average age of 36 years. Geographically, the population is mainly dispersed across London; however, the boroughs with the highest concentration are Southwark, Lambeth, Brent, and Newham.

LAWRS About Us Latin Americans in the UK

High employment rate concentrated in low-paid jobs

Latin Americans are a highly qualified group with high rates of employment. However, the community is concentrated in low-skilled and low-paid jobs where conditions are often exploitative, with long-hours, and often having to combine several part-time jobs.

Our 2019 report, ‘The Unheard Workforce: experiences of Latin American women in cleaning, hospitality and domestic work’, presenting 326 cases of Latin American women employed in these sectors, found that: over half of the workers faced breaches to their contracts (62%), with unlawful deduction of wages being the most common type of abuse (46%) and 1 in 5 (20%) experiencing illegal underpayment of the National Minimum Wage. Over two in five (41%) of women in the sample had experienced discrimination, harassment or unreasonable treatment, and health and safety issues were present in 25% of the cases, which included injury linked to the nature of the work (33%), limited or no protective equipment (17%), and lack of training (12%). In addition, 16% of the women endured sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace and 11 cases of potential trafficking for labour exploitation were identified: 7 in cleaning/hospitality, 4 in domestic work.

Despite high levels of employment and low incomes, the percentage of Latin Americans accessing public services and state benefits is low. According to the No Longer Invisible report, 1 in 5 Latin Americans have never been to a GP, 6 out of 10 have never been to a dentist in the UK and only 1 in 5 receive some form of state welfare benefit.

Discrimination and marginalisation of Latin American women

The overwhelming majority of Latin American migrant women work in feminised low-paying sectors of employment, experiencing regular violations to their labour rights, abuse and exploitation. Cultural barriers, poverty, lack of knowledge of English and understanding of the system in the UK, combined with gendered forms of racism, xenophobia, immigration restrictions, and lack of visibility and voice for the LA community, exacerbate isolation and marginalisation, increasing our vulnerability to abuse, discrimination and exploitation.

Women in our community are marginalised, both socially and economically. Their lack of resources and time, tied to their responsibilities for children and the home, restrict their chances to learn English and their way around the system, therefore preventing their opportunities to access better paying jobs. Many are survivors of gender-based violence back home and their circumstances as refugees and migrants in the UK make them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation at home and elsewhere.