Sexism and Gender Stereotyping in International Guest Worker Programs: An Analysis of Two 2016 Petitions Filed Under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation
IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference held at the University of Georgia School of Law
25 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 13, 2018
In July 2016, migrant farm worker advocates and trade unions filed petitions under NAFTA's labor side agreement alleging sex discrimination in recruitment for the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the U.S. H-2A and H-2B agricultural and low wage visa programs. Because of sex discrimination in recruitment, less than 4 percent of the workers who participate in the programs are women. These two bold and innovative petitions highlight the bifurcation of global migrant labor markets which exclude women from economic opportunity based on gender stereotyping. Discrimination in recruitment and treatment of women in the global migrant labor market is the norm, not the exception. After discussing and comparing the facts and claims raised in each petition under applicable legal frameworks in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), this article explores possible outcomes of the petitions given the nuances and political environments in the Canadian and U.S. cases and the current state of relations between the Government of Mexico and its North American neighbors. The article places sexism and gender stereotyping in North American guest worker programs in an international context, discussing other examples of sexism in the global labor market and existing norms in ILO Conventions and CEDAW. In the Canadian case, the article argues that the Governments of Canada and Mexico should renegotiate international agreements that form the SAWP to implement the recommendations of the Mexican Council on the Prevention of Discrimination. In the U.S. case, the article argues that the Government of Mexico should pursue the establishment of an Evaluative Committee of Experts (ECE) under Article 23 of the NAALC if the U.S. does not enact and enforce meaningful reforms to eliminate sex discrimination in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs.
Keywords: Free Trade and Labor Standards, Women's Rights, NAFTA, NAALC, Migrant Workers, Agricultural Workers, CEDAW, H-2A visa, H-2B visa, Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, SAWP
JEL Classification: F13, F16, F53, F66, J71, J80, J83, J88, K31, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation