- In Spanish, #EllasHablan is the plural of “she speaks.” In this campaign, 10 Mexican women who migrated from Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Oaxaca, Baja California to work in the agricultural industry tell their stories.
- They speak about the grueling labor conditions faced by women who migrate to work in the fields.
- They speak about safety, economic opportunities, and the positive impact of ethical recruitment.
August 1, 2022 – In Mexico, 12.7% of all agricultural workers are women(1), yet only 3 out of every 10 women that work in the fields are paid for their work(2). 93.4% of women agricultural workers in Mexico have no labor contract; 90.9% lack access to healthcare through their employer, and 85.3% have no benefits(3). Women agricultural workers that migrate across national borders face discrimination in the recruitment process and what types of work they are assigned. In recent years, only 6% of all H-2A visas were granted to women(4).
“We’ve been out in the fields since we were kids. Since the age of two, even one year old, they tell us. We’re out there in our mother’s belly. When she’s in the trenches between the furrows. That’s where we’re born, that’s where we grow up. We are day laborers,” shares Ermelinda Santiago, 36, from Metlatónoc, Guerrero.
The #EllasHablan campaign is a PERIPLO initiative to raise awareness about women migrant agricultural workers’ ideas for and contributions to transforming labor conditions in the agricultural industry, in both Mexico and the United States.
In interviews conducted in 2022, 10 women speak about the grueling labor and living conditions faced by women migrant agricultural workers, including discrimination, low wages (in Mexico, between 146 and 310 pesos a day(5)), lack of benefits (85.3% of women migrant agricultural workers in Mexico have no benefits(6)), excessively long work shifts combined with unpaid care work, and lack of access to temporary work visas to migrate to the United States.
Their stories also highlight the role these women play as agents of change for their families, communities, and the agricultural industry in Mexico and the United States. This is in additon to acknowledging the specific challenges that women face, including back-to-back double and triple shifts given that they also raise and care for their children and third parties (plus other care work)(7), the erasure of their contributions, and minimal representation and decision-making power in the workplace(8).
They speak to demand that the agricultural industry and consumers recognize the importance of their work, and that industry and government leaders take action to uphold their human and labor rights.
The campaign also shows the positive impact that ethical and responsible recruitment has for migrant agricultural workers, opening up access to information about the conditions under which they are hired, legal temporary visas to work in the United States, and improved income and benefits for workers and their families.
Celestina José San Juan, from San Quintín, Baja California, heard a rumor that a farm was open to hiring women, which is one of the greatest barriers faced by women agricultural workers today, and, thanks to responsible recruitment practices, she was hired and now earns enough to take care of her parents. Ethical hiring not only benefits workers; it also increases productivity and stability in the food supply chain, whose weaknesses have been revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new video will be posted each week, starting today, on PERIPLO’s social media accounts: Facebook /proyectoPeriplo, Twitter @proyectoperiplo y LinkedIn Proyecto Periplo
PERIPLO is a collaborative project that brings together the following national and international civil society organizations: Centro de Acompañamiento a Migrantes (CAMINOS), Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante Inc. (CDM), Centro de Estudios en Cooperación Internacional y Gestión Pública (CECIG), Cierto Global, Oxfam Mexico, Stronger Together, and Verité. Supported by the Walmart Foundation.
Visit www.proyectoperiplo.org to find out more about the PERIPLO project and our partners.
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