Mexico City, 3 May 2017
- Unjustified dismissals, low salaries, and sexual harassment—these are some of the systematic human rights violations faced by women workers in the apparel industry
- Nonprofit organizations are working to empower women workers to deal with the abuses they face and have access to a dignified life
– Unjustified dismissals, long hours without extra pay, sexual harassment and abuse, a gender pay gap, unsafe and/or unhygienic working conditions—these are the conditions that thousands of women workers face in the apparel industry in Mexico. These issues are compounded by subcontracting, limited freedom of association, and the growing gender violence in the country, which threaten the women’s potential to organize.
Because of these conditions, Fondo Semillas, Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), and Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC)—nonprofits that work for women’s human rights—announce their project, “Improving working and living conditions for women workers in Mexico,” which will strengthen and coordinate seven women’s labor rights organizations in Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Morelos, Puebla, Coahuila, Oaxaca, and Mexico City.
More than 50 percent of people employed on the production line are women, according to statistics from Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi, 2010). The workers at garment factories hold less than a third of the technical and administrative positions in the sector; the rest are employed as assemblers. Their work creates significant income for Mexico’s economy; since 2015 the value of exported fabric and clothing accessories was 40.84 million Mexican pesos.
“We often work 12 hours standing, and that has a serious impact on the life and health of women. To go to the bathroom you have to put your name on a list and 30 minutes later they give you permission. The best positions go to the men and are better paid,” said a female worker from the industry.
The objective of the initiative, funded by C&A Foundation, is to promote better life and working conditions for women workers in the apparel industry in Mexico by strengthening grassroots organizations that defend labor rights in order to promote the workers’ empowerment. The objective also seeks to point out the responsibilities and obligations of the private sector and the state.
Companies have the responsibility to respect human rights and carry out actions to prevent and mitigate the damages that their activities produce. For that reason, Fondo Semillas, HIP, and ProDESC will create spaces for dialogue between themselves and international companies, local factories, and the chambers of commerce of the apparel industry.
As the only women’s fund in Mexico, Fondo Semillas provides grants, training, and ongoing accompaniment to women’s groups and organizations throughout the country. Over the past 26 years, Fondo Semillas has strengthened 580,000 women and benefited an additional 2.4 million women, girls, boys and men indirectly. In 2011 the organization received the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative & Effective Institutions, and in 2012 the Mexico City Humans Rights Commission recognized Fondo Semillas with the Hermila Galindo Award.
/ Fb: @Fondo Semillas Tw: @FondoSemillas
Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), a nonprofit with more than 32 years of experience, strengthens Latino leadership, equity, and voice by leveraging philanthropic resources. HIP partners with a transnational network of foundations to make impactful investments in the Latino community, and helps Latino nonprofits access funds and develop their leadership so they can effectively address the most pressing issues facing our communities.
/ Fb: @behipgive Tw: @HIPGive
The Project of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights A.C. (ProDESC) is a non-governmental organization founded in 2005. Our objective is to defend and promote economic, social and cultural rights. We accompany agrarian communities and indigenous peoples in the defense of their land, territory and natural resources, as well as groups of workers in the defense of their human labour rights. In 2014, our Executive Director, Alejandra Ancheita, received the Martín Ennals award, also known as the “Nobel of human rights”.
/ Fb: @prodesc.ac Tw:@PRODESC