Indigenous Female Farmworkers in Northern Mexico: Workers' Rights Violation Under the Veil of Better Jobs

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:45 PM
Room: Booth 46
Oral Presentation
Concepcion MARTINEZ , Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Ensenada, Mexico
Lourdes CAMARENA-OJINAGA , Faculty of Administrative and Social Sciences, Autonomous University of Baja California, Ensenada, Mexico
Christina VON GLASCOE , Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, Mexico
Evarista ARELLANO , Autonomous University of Baja California, Ensenada, Mexico
In Mexico the implementation of macroeconomic policies has resulted in the indigenous population experiencing great disadvantage, being deprived of benefits and subject to profound inequalities. Despite the fact that in the northern Mexican states living conditions are generally better than in the rest of the country, development is unequal and inequitable. This situation particularly impacts the female indigenous population that works in the agricultural fields in northern Mexico, as reflected in their low educational levels, unemployment or unstable employment, inadequate housing, poor nutrition, lack of social support and great poverty.

This paper discusses the point of view of female indigenous farmworkers in terms of social inequalities and their effect on living conditions. It is based on research conducted over three years in an agricultural valley of the state of Baja California, regarding working conditions, workers’ rights and the health of indigenous women who work in the agricultural fields. Using qualitative methods, the objective of this research was to recover the voices of the farmworker women regarding the inequalities to which they are subject.

The instability and insecurity of their employment produces and guarantees a docile and inexpensive work force, thereby permitting companies to reduce the financial risk implied by the cost of guaranteeing work and benefits. This situation reflects the invisibility of these women in the eyes of the state, which leaves them in a condition of social vulnerability. The asymmetry of social relations explains how the state can offer low-quality services to this population and reduce their working and salary opportunities. The socioeconomic vulnerability in which this population is found is reflected in job insecurity and the inability to defend themselves against the state.