- Several organizations gathered together to exchange strategies for supporting women migrant workers.
- Together they identified the most frequent labor rights violations suffered by women migrant workers.
- They shared challenges and opportunities for strengthening women workers’ rights in the agricultural industry in Mexico and along migration corridors between Mexico and the United States.
November 29, 2021 – The Periplo project held a virtual forum titled “Reflexionando saberes con perspectiva de género, enfocados en personas en situación de movilidad laboral” (“Sharing knowledge and understanding about labor migration with a gender equity focus”) to facilitate the exchange of experiences, strategies, and methodologies grounded in gender equity.
The forum was organized by Centro de Estudios de Cooperación Internacional y Gestión Pública, AC (CECIG). Over 40 people attended, representing civil society organizations, donor institutions, and intergovernmental agencies.
The group identified the most frequent human rights violations faced by women agricultural migrant workers, including: discrimination during the recruitment process, workplace discrimination, wage gaps between men and women, lack of opportunities for women to be in management or supervisory positions, sexual harassment and assault, lack of access to adequate healthcare and housing services, and violence (domestic violence, lack of public safety, and general violence related to drug trafficking and organized crime), among others. Furthermore, gender stereotypes continue to be barriers to opportunities and equal treatment for women. Consequently, women end up working double and triple shifts, as most caregiving and household responsibilities fall to them. Forum participants also pointed out the lack of public policies and programs in Mexico to address the needs of the agricultural migrant worker population.
One of the topics discussed during the forum was the United States’ H-2A and H-2B visa programs for hiring migrant workers, which are responsible for a significant amount of migration between Mexico and the US. Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM) has documented cases of labor discrimination, differences in legal protection and assistance offered under each program, and issues related to the hiring of workers by a sole employer. CDM has provided legal support in the complaint filed by women migrant workers Adareli Ponce Hernández and Maritza Pérez, in accordance with Chapter 23 of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which prohibits discrimination under any circumstances during employment. Forty-five civil society organizations have lent their support in the case.
CDM helps women migrants to combat abuse and discrimination through its project, Proyecto de Mujeres Migrantes (Proyecto PROMUMI). CDM has determined that migrant workers with marginalized gender identities, including women, trans, non-binary, and queer people, are more likely to be victims of discrimination, sexual assault, gender-based violence, and human trafficking.
In addition, CIERTO Global shared its experience as a recruitment agency operating in Mexico that promotes ethical and responsible recruitment practices. CIERTO shared some of the challenges that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic, including a reduction in jobs for women. They also shared how the H-2A and H-2B visa programs are designed to hire men, and that in general, women have been recruited far less often than men. Some of the challenges that recruiters and employers face are: inadequate housing for women, both during the waiting period for visas to be processed as well as during employment; discrimination; and prejudice and stereotypes that persist in both communities of origin and places of work.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Mexico also shared experiences and recommendations based on their Cerrando Brechas program to close the gender gap in agriculture. This initiative aims to strengthen institutional capacities to provide social protection for women agricultural workers. It’s been successfully implemented in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Jalisco, where a network of social protection advocates is promoting women agricultural workers’ rights, both in their local spheres of influence and through public institutions.
Lastly, CECIG shared the methodology they are developing to conduct a diagnostic study of the most pressing needs and issues for migrant women, men, and families. The study will cover communities of origin, destination, and settlement in three Mexican states: Guerrero, Morelos, and San Luis Potosí. CECIG shared that women face exorbitant workloads and continual human rights violations. Using participatory methods, they aim to work alongside women day laborers to boost their inclusion, leadership, and participation.
The forum closed with an agreement to continue the conversation and exchange information and methodologies for promoting the human rights of all agricultural migrant workers and preventing abuses in both Mexico and the United States. Participants also agreed to continue documenting and systematizing information, to center the voices of migrants, and to bring attention to private companies’ responsibilities to uphold human rights. They agreed to continue to work collaboratively to come up with both comprehensive and specific strategies in an effort to transform the agricultural system into a more equitable one that respects the rights of migrant workers.
CECIG: Ana Lara, firstname.lastname@example.org
Periplo: Dunia Orellana, email@example.com