EQUAL - Equal Access to Quality Jobs for Women and Girls in Mexico
EQUAL seeks to increase job quality and safety, create opportunities for economic participation, and address gaps in social programs to reach remote and impoverished families in Mexico.
Mexico is the United States’ second-largest regional export market and third-largest trading partner (after Canada and China). According to the World Bank, Mexico is a middle-income country on a growth trajectory. However, the prevalence of unpaid work among women, horizontal and vertical segmentation of the labor market, and gender segregation are all barriers to full inclusion of women in the labor market and access to decent working conditions. There is limited government enforcement of laws on child labor, gender-based discrimination, and working conditions in the agricultural sector, including in the sugarcane and coffee sectors, where many women and girls work. Furthermore, as the majority of the agricultural work is informal (contractual or seasonal), workers often have poor access to governmental or private sector protections and grievance mechanisms, social safety net programs, opportunities for up-skilling, and vocational advancement on the job. Migrant workers are particularly impacted by these conditions. There are also reports of discrimination and exploitation of women and girls in the agricultural sector such as gender pay gaps, sexual harassment, discrimination in training and job hiring, and limited access to resources, including extension services, agricultural inputs, credit, and land ownership.
The goal of the EQUAL project is to reduce the risk of child labor, forced labor, and other labor rights violations for women and adolescent girls (aged 15-17) working within the agricultural sector. The project’s core strategies will:
- Focus on the most vulnerable – EQUAL aims to create a scalable model of service delivery that reaches the most vulnerable, specifically women and girls in remote communities who work in the sugarcane and coffee sectors in Veracruz and Oaxaca, especially in informal arrangements.
- Engage men and boys in the solution – EQUAL seeks to further gender equality by engaging men and boys in women’s empowerment programming. The project delivers communications targeted at men and boys and provides training that aims to increase their understanding of gender equality and enable them to support women and girls at the household and community levels. EQUAL aims to make men and boys more aware of gender-based discrimination, violence against women, and labor rights violations that affect women and girls. Through EQUAL, men and boys are encouraged to support greater involvement of women and adolescent girls in decision-making about household economic priorities and life decisions, such as participating in governments social protection programs.
- Engage the private sector – EQUAL provides technical assistance and coaching to private sector stakeholders in Veracruz and Oaxaca to improve their ability to comply with labor rights, in coordination with the public sector.
- Create multiple “tracks” to economic empowerment for women and girls – The project seeks to create multiple tracks to economic empowerment for women and girls—including through education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
- Communicate with multiple audiences to promote dialogue and raise awareness about these issues.
- The EQUAL project is co-organizer of the training program for municipal public servants in Oaxaca called “No + Violencia” (No more Violence). Its objective is to help municipal workers to understand social inequalities that lead to gender and sexual violence against women and girls in Oaxaca. The training program focuses on the 40 municipalities that have declared a gender violence alert against women). A mechanism to protect women’s human rights, the alert is requires emergency governmental actions to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls.
- The project served as secretariat for the ILAB-funded Mexico Projects Coordination Committee; established relationships and began coordinating with stakeholders at the federal level, and state and municipal levels within Oaxaca and Veracruz.
- To better understand the barriers to gender equality, the project carried out research, including a situational analysis to identify attitudes and practices regarding gender inequality, gender violence, and the participation of women and girls in productive activities. This research will inform the project’s activities and approach.
Sikanda, Verité Inc.