ProDESC doubling efforts to help garment workers defend their labour rights
C&A Foundation in Mexico and the "Economic Social and Cultural Rights Project" (ProDESC) have entered into a partnership, to support and enable women workers in the industry, so that they know their rights and can defend them more effectively. The initiative, which started out in February 2019, will run for two years and focus on protecting the human rights of women working in the fashion industry in six states in Mexico.
ProDESC method for the defence of human rights, devised by its Founder and Managing Director, Alejandra Ancheita, comprises four strategies:
- Strategic litigation at municipal, state, federal and – if necessary – transnational level.
- Reinforcing organisational processes focused on collective subjects.
- Advocacy with key actors at municipal, state, federal and/or transnational level.
- Changing the hegemonic narrative to make the voices of communities and collectives heard.
In 2013, ProDESC was part of the National Coordinating Committee of Human Rights Defenders (CNDDHL), which promotes organisations led by women (workers or former workers) who defend workers' human rights. Some of the areas that the organisations focus on include the make-up industry, agriculture and domestic work, as well as temporary migrants.
Since 2016, the CNDDHL has created new internal rules for regulating the entry of new organisation and new groups, which has strengthened the organisation. The Coordinating Committee's objectives during 2019 and 2020 will continuing this implementing improvements to the organisation by organising and implementing its own political agenda, creating a support network with other civil-society organisations, and encouraging the creation of new organisations for female workers.
Various actions that have already had a positive impact will also be further encouraged, such as the opening of the Migrant Worker Assistance, Consultancy and Attention Centre – the first space in Mexico focused on temporary migrant workers; implementing the RADAR programme, which assists in contracting temporary migrant workers in the United States ethically; publishing the first document in Spanish dedicated to the safely of those defending human rights at community level in October 2018; opening more spaces so that communities and organisations can discuss their experiences; building up collective power with a focus on gender, as is the case with the ‘National Coordinating Committee of Workers' Human Rights Defenders’ and ‘National Domestic Workers' Network’; and defending the earth, territory and natural resources with assistance given to the community of Unión Hidalgo, Oaxaca.
One of the programmes that has benefited the most from the partnership with C&A Foundation is the School of Transnational Justice. This project was set up by ProDESC in 2016, and included members of the CNDDHL. It provides knowledge and experiences to those working as human-rights defenders in their communities and workplaces. The School so far has had two groups graduate and has the support of 30 experts from institutions such as the Ibero-American University, the Metropolitan Autonomous University, the Autonomous University of Mexico City, the Fordham University of New York and Oxford University's Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. They jointly provide technical foundations for bolstering the work of those who took part in this academic space.
In July, the School formed a new class, integrating new participants from the apparel industry in Mexico to analyse cases of human rights abuses committed by transnational corporations and were able to view a problem that affects them daily globally. “For us, this space must build strategic alliances and teamwork to develop the necessary tools to organise and achieve improvements in the human rights landscape in our country’ said Alejandra Ancheita, Executive Director of ProDESC, during the inauguration of the third group from this project.
In addition, ProDESC will seek out strategic partnerships through discussion panels, which will help organisations discuss and plan collective actions more directly. These partnerships will help to design two annual campaigns for encouraging respect for the human rights of women working in ‘maquiladora’ factories.
Through this project, C&A Foundation, the CNDDHL and ProDESC are aiming to involve women workers in the fashion industry directly, to achieve its transformation into an industry in which everyone can prosper.
Founded in 2005, ProDESC is a civil society organization that aims to defend and promote the economic, social and cultural rights of workers, indigenous communities, temporary migrants and agrarian communities. Among the organizations, they work with the National Network of Household Workers, the Coalition of Temporary Migrant Workers of Sinaloa, the Resistance Committee for wind projects in Unión Hidalgo, the Unión Hidalgo Community Assembly and the Women's Committee in Defense of Life.
For more information about ProDESC, visit their website.