EQUAL - Equal Access to Quality Jobs for Women and Girls in Mexico

Project Duration
December 2019
December 2024
Funding and Year

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.

The Problem

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.

Our Strategy

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Communicate with multiple audiences to promote dialogue and raise awareness about these issues.


  • Equal has made significant progress in providing its ready-for-life training to over 400 women and adolescent girls to craft their life projects by offering opportunities for vocational training, employment readiness, or a path toward entrepreneurship.
  • The project has successfully strengthened the capacity of the public sector by developing protocols to identify and refer child labor and forced labor cases at the state level by training almost 2,339 public servants on child labor, forced labor, and other labor violations with a gender-equity lens.
  • Through an alliance with the Mexican Council of Extraordinary Coffees, Equal recently launched Zepanian (equality in Nahuatl language), a specialty coffee brand free of child labor and mainly produced by women coffee growers. Through this alliance, 87 small coffee producers were trained in specialty coffee production techniques, which in turn helped them elevate the quality of their coffee and access market opportunities. Last fall, Zepanian producers sold over 661 pounds of coffee for three times as much as its original price. The brand's launch has attracted a lot of attention from national and international buyers interested in purchasing this specialty coffee.
World Vision
Implementing Partners:
Sikanda, Verité Inc.
Contact Information:
GlobalKids@ILAB.dol.gov / Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)
Child Labor
Child Labor
Economic Empowerment
Forced Labor
gender-based violence
Girls and Women
Sugar Cane
Supply Chains
Women’s Empowerment