Published on July 27, 2020

Social protection for the day labor population in Mexico before COVID-19

2030 Agenda, a tool to generate consensus in the face of the pandemic.

First virtual transmission: Social protection for the day laborer population in Mexico: Occupational safety and health in the agricultural sector, with a gender focus.

The first virtual session of the series: Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) for temporary agricultural workers was held before COVID-19, organized by the United Nations interagency team Mexico in coordination with the Directorate of the 2030 Agenda of the Office of the Presidency of the Republic, as part of the actions in response to the current pandemic and those who participate in the project: Closing gaps: Social protection for women in Mexico .

This seminar is the first of six that aims to make visible the importance of occupational safety and health (OSH) and social protection in the agricultural day laborer population, taking into account the challenge of addressing the vulnerabilities of women in this sector.

“The impact that the crisis due to COVID-19 will have on the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 2030 Agenda, making it more difficult not to leave anyone behind, but also as an opportunity to position the Agenda as a tool for generate consensus. “Domestic workers and workers in the agricultural sector comprise the most vulnerable groups of women in the country and therefore must be supported in a systemic and cross-cutting manner. Not only promoting the social protection of women, but also giving conditions and incentives to companies to promote these important sources of employment,” said Gemma Santana, Director of the 2030 Agenda in Mexico.

“Before COVID-19 the situation is complex, which is why the implementation of projects and strategic alliances to accelerate social protection actions for women in Mexico becomes relevant. Closing Gaps: Extending Social Protection for Women in Mexico, with the fulfillment of the goals of the 2030 Agenda, it is necessary to strengthen the differentiated support policies for family, indigenous and Afro-Mexican agriculture; the sustainable productivity of the agricultural sector carry out affirmative actions to transform inequalities related to gender injustices”.

Helmut Schwarzer, Social Protection Specialist at the International Labor Organization (ILO), emphasized: “The countries of the world must face the COVID crisis with policies articulated around four pillars: fiscal and monetary policies, business support to support workers' incomes, to be able to distance from work those people who can telework and the fourth pillar, social dialogue, consensus between workers, employers and government agencies”.

“The importance in times of COVID-19 of complying with occupational safety and health and social protection, through the international conventions that Mexico has ratified: Convention 102 of Minimum Standards of Social Security and Convention 105 of Standards minimum safety and health at work”.

Lourdes Colinas, Coordinator of Economic Empowerment Projects of UN Women in Mexico, stated: “The pandemic by COVID-19 has brought and made visible the barriers that women face, income security, in the particular case of women workers agricultural, a particularly vulnerable group. Women have lower wages for the same job, less access to credit and are overrepresented in the informal market, and social protection is often interrupted by care work. Most indigenous and Afro-descendant women do not have access to social protection and cannot work remotely, which generates uncertainty in their remuneration, especially due to the absence of a formal contract.

"Food security may be affected by difficulties in accessing food due to the closure of services in rural areas, coupled with the crisis of gender violence that is being experienced by confinement at the intra-family level, in addition, transfer measures should be promoted immediate cash that addresses gender difference, in order to guarantee the exercise of human rights".



To conclude, Lina Pohl, FAO Representative, commented: “The situation we find in Mexico is that 6 out of 10 rural women live in poverty, have a lower income, less possession of the land, and limited political participation, so they do not make decisions about their assets. Poor access to social security and health services, as well as long working hours. Only 3 out of 10 women who work in the agricultural sector receive a salary for their work and only 13% of rural women had access to health services. That is why the government, within the framework of the 2030 agenda, requested the UN to make public policy proposals to ensure the protection of this vulnerable sector.”

“The agricultural day laborers, due to the lack of social protection and migration around the productive cycles of the agri-food chains, are more exposed to COVID-19, as they cannot stop working, since their work is an essential activity. Progress is being made in public policy recommendations for the social protection of agricultural day laborers. It is highly relevant to promote flexible mechanisms for access to health services and an expanded social protection agenda in coordination with employer companies, the government and the organized day-population.” Finally, she recognized that eliminating women's gaps is a complex task, so that in addition to the work of the United Nations system, the coordination and joint actions that the federal government has had on the issue are vital.

To see the broadcast of the session click here