Women Workers in Mexico: Using the International Human Rights Framework to Achieve Labor Protection

By Goergen, Elizabeth | Georgetown Journal of International Law, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Women Workers in Mexico: Using the International Human Rights Framework to Achieve Labor Protection


Goergen, Elizabeth, Georgetown Journal of International Law


I. INTRODUCTION

Working women around the world are subject to discrimination in the workplace, such as being paid less than men for the same work, sexual harassment, and pregnancy discrimination. (1) Gender discrimination is pervasive in the manufacturing industry, where workers are considered "unskilled" and lack bargaining power with their employers. (2) Factory workers are often unaware of their rights and lack the resources to demand that their rights be respected. (3)

Discrimination against women is pervasive in Mexico's public and private spheres. In 2005, the First National Survey on Discrimination found that 93% of women believed they suffered discrimination. (4) Historically, Mexican women tended to work predominantly in the agricultural sector. Due to increased globalization generally and free trade in particular, however, Mexican women are being displaced from agricultural and informal sectors and forced to take jobs in maquiladoras, factories typically located along the U.S. border where goods are assembled or finished for exportation. (5) Women working in maquiladoras are subjected to sexual harassment by coworkers and supervisors, required to undergo pregnancy testing when applying for work, and forced to endure further pregnancy discrimination after they have been hired. (6)

Mexico is a party to numerous international and regional human rights treaties that demand protection for women workers. (7) In particular, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ("CEDAW"), the American Charter on Human Rights, and the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation ("NAALC") side agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA") all include provisions regarding gendered labor discrimination. (8) Mexican legislation does guarantee some rights to women, such as equal protection under the law and the right to work. These rights are defined narrowly, however, and domestic legislation is not well enforced. By failing to protect women workers from discrimination, Mexico is not fulfilling its human rights obligations. (9) Mexican women workers can and should demand protection for their human rights under international and regional human rights law.

This paper analyzes the extent to which the Mexican government is fulfilling its obligation under human rights law to protect women from discrimination in the workplace. Part II discusses the history of discrimination against women workers in Mexico and the current human rights violations, particularly sexual harassment in the workplace, discrimination against pregnant workers, and forced pregnancy testing. Part III examines the international and regional human rights framework regarding gendered labor discrimination and the extent of Mexico's success in meeting its human rights obligations. Part IV recommends strategies for using the international and regional human rights mechanisms to achieve better protection for women workers in Mexico.

II. DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN WORKERS

Discrimination against women is not a new problem. However, awareness about the prevalence of discrimination against women in the workplace is growing. (10) Largely, this is due to the increase in the proportion of Mexican women who work outside the home. (11) A number of factors have contributed to the shifting demographics of working women. This section discusses one major force in that shift, the NAFTA, and the most prevalent forms of discrimination that have emerged.

A. The Role of Women in Mexico

The circumscribed traditional roles of men and women persist in Mexican society. These norms are referred to as marianismo and machismo. (12) Women are held to the ideals of the Virgin Mary, and expected to dedicate themselves to having and raising family. (13) These cultural norms conflict with women participating in the workforce, especially after they have been married and have children.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Women Workers in Mexico: Using the International Human Rights Framework to Achieve Labor Protection
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.