Paraguay Okakuaa (Paraguay Progresses)
In partnership with the Paraguayan Ministry of Labor, Paraguay Okakuaa is strengthening the enforcement of labor laws in agriculture in the Department of Guairá and providing educational and livelihood opportunities for families vulnerable to child labor, particularly young women. And in response to the government’s political will to address forced labor, the project is now expanding efforts to the Chaco, a significant cattle- and beef-exporting region. By addressing labor issues in global supply chains, particularly in the beef sector, the project will help ensure a fair playing field for U.S. goods in global export markets.
In Paraguay, recurrent labor violations include the worst forms of child labor, unregistered adolescent labor, and failure to observe minimum wage and maximum work hours for adolescents of legal working age and adults. Poverty, social acceptance, and limited education, training and livelihood opportunities create vulnerabilities to child labor exploitation in agriculture, domestic service, and urban work. There is also both youth unemployment and underemployment, especially among girls in rural areas, which can limit their future employment prospects and professional development. The Paraguayan Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security (MTESS), which became an independent ministry in 2014, seeks to build a highly effective, professional labor inspectorate to improve labor law compliance.
USDOL has worked with the Government of Paraguay to reduce child labor since 2000. Paraguay Okakuaa builds on those efforts to eliminate child labor and improve labor law compliance and working conditions in agriculture, with a particular focus on the Department of Guairá. In particular, Paraguay Okakuaa continues the progress already made in eliminating child labor in sugarcane production. The project is
- raising awareness of child labor and labor rights, including acceptable conditions of work; improving multi-agency coordination to reduce child labor;
- piloting an integrated data sharing system (registro único) to protect children and adolescents in the Department of Guairá;
- referring vulnerable children to social protection programs; implementing educational pilot programs for in-school and after-school enrichment;
- conducting vocational training and economic empowerment activities, especially for adolescent girls or rural females;
- increasing labor law compliance, improving knowledge and technical capacity of labor law inspectors through an improved inspector training program, and assisting the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security with strategic planning, annual operational planning, human resource management, and monitoring and evaluation of labor inspections.
- Paraguay Okakuaa worked to ensure that almost 3,500 children received educational services, over 1,500 households received services to improve their livelihoods, and over 2,000 adults received employment or business training.
- Paraguay Okakuaa was instrumental in spreading the innovative Espacios para Crecer after-school educational program to Guairá and the Chaco. The project developed curricula in Guaraní and Nivaclé, which opened the opportunity for hundreds of indigenous children in Paraguay to participate with the potential to reach many more.
- Paraguay Okakuaa developed an electronic case management system for the labor inspectorate to increase efficiency and transparency in its labor inspection processes, strengthening the government’s capacity to enforce the labor laws. The commitment of the Ministry of Labor to sustain and maintain this data system has already served as a model for other countries, and violators are now more likely to be punished and victims are more likely to be compensated.