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’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.