Pact, U.S. Department of Labor announce new project in Colombian sugar and cut flower sectors

February 13, 2020

The only way that the surprise of flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day gets any sweeter is when they feel as good to give as they do to get.

In a new $5 million, four-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Pact will empower women and girls working in the cut flower and sugarcane (including unrefined sugar known as panela) sectors in Colombia.

The project, titled “Equal Access to Quality Jobs for Women and Girls,” will empower women, girls and their families and communities by providing them with a better understanding of labor rights and improved access to labor and social protections, in support of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, commonly known as W-GDP.

The project will increase job training and economic opportunities for more than 2,000 women and girls and aims to improve practices by government and private sector actors to reduce the vulnerability of working women to child labor, forced labor and other violations of labor rights within the agricultural sector.

Women and girls ages 15-17 working in agriculture often lack knowledge of their labor rights and are vulnerable to unacceptable conditions of work. In the panela sector, which generates the most employment in Colombian agriculture after coffee, girls are vulnerable to child labor, including work in hazardous conditions, and women and girls may work unpaid on family farms.

In the cut flowers sector, women comprise 65 percent of the labor force and often work long hours and are exposed to occupational safety and health risks.

In both sectors, women and girls are vulnerable to gender discrimination, gender-based violence and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Pact is implementing the project in partnership with Escuela Nacional Sindical (ENS), as well as the Colombian government, private-sector stakeholders and local civil society organizations. These include the National Business Association (ANDI), Molienda Real, Gramalote, Colombia’s Ministry of Labor and Ministry of Agriculture and others.

Read the project summary on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

Read more about Pact’s work in Colombia here.