Verité’s vision is a world where people work under safe, fair, and legal conditions. Yet, as we scan the globe, it’s all too obvious that women workers are still particularly vulnerable to labor rights abuses across all sectors and geographies. Therefore our work requires a special focus on how women are treated in the workplace and how gender inequality can exacerbate labor and human rights abuses in global supply chains. Looking just as the most severe form of labor exploitation – forced labor – the gender dimensions are clear: according to the International Labour Organization, nearly 60 percent of workers in conditions of forced labor are women.
Verité is pleased to announce the launch of a new web resource, www.verite.org/africa, to help users understand the risk of human trafficking associated with global supply chains operating in sub-Saharan Africa. The African region has acted as a supplier of labor and raw materials to the rest of the world for centuries, often under terms that have resulted in harm to African people and nations. Companies and governments have both an ethical and a legal responsibility to minimize the risks to human rights associated with global economic activity in Africa, including the risk of human trafficking.
Verité’s exploratory research into the labor conditions in Guatemala’s sugar industry has revealed a high degree of vulnerability to labor trafficking in this sector. This research found evidence of recruitment abuses, child labor, restrictions on workers’ right to freedom of association, gender-based discrimination, wage and hour violations, threats to workers’ health and safety, inhumane living conditions, and negative impacts on communities surrounding sugar plantations.
Verité is pleased to announce the publication of our latest research report, “Risk Analysis of Labor Violations Among Farmworkers in the Guatemalan Sugar Sector: A Report on Findings from Rapid Appraisal Research.” This research revealed a high degree of vulnerability to labor trafficking for workers in the Guatemalan sugar sector. Our exploratory research found several indicators of human trafficking, including: deceptive recruitment, debt bondage, child labor, inadequate food, surveillance, risks to worker health and safety, and hazardous working conditions. Verité found that workers are subjected to conditions that can have an alarming impact on their long-term health and can be subject to labor abuses from the moment they are recruited.
For more than 20 years, Verité has seen how gender inequality exacerbates labor and human rights abuses in global supply chains. Inequality based on gender comes in many forms including restrictions on the types of work women do, limited access to labor protections, and disparities in compensation. In honor of Women’s History Month, we would like to take this opportunity to touch on the many ways in which Verité sees, and seeks to change, differential impacts on women from prevailing supply chain dynamics in a variety of sectors.