Colombia: Venezuelan migrants suffer violence due to job insecurity

Bogotá, November 25, 2020. In Colombia, where many Venezuelan migrants face job insecurity that violates their fundamental rights including access to decent employment, health, education, and housing, Cuso International warns about a situation that may worsen with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Job insecurity is particularly acute for Venezuelan migrant women.  According to a recent study carried out by Cuso International, supported by the Government of Canada, which includes data from the Great Integrated Household Survey (Gran Encuesta Integrada de Hogares – GEIH), 91.1% of Venezuelan migrant women work in the Colombia’s informal labour market, and have no social security. Although this situation also affects Colombian women (60%), the impact is greater for their Venezuelan counterparts. At the same time, migrant women work more hours than locals (approximately 42.5 versus 37 hours, respectively) yet on average they earn less than the minimum wage and almost half of their local peers’ income.

The authors – researchers at Universidad Externado de Colombia – developed a job quality index based on four dimensions: adequate income, job stability security, social security, and work hours. The conclusion is that Venezuelan migrant women’s job quality is 50% lower than that of Colombian women, which is already precarious.

The study shows how Venezuelan migrant women’s basic needs are unmet. While the average monthly income of a formally employed Colombian woman is COP $ 1,458,000, that of a formally employed Venezuelan woman is COP$ 785,000.

According to Alejandro Matos, Director of Cuso International in Colombia, the real problem is the gender gap in the national labor market. “Both Colombian and Venezuelan women are lagging behind in terms of access to formal and dignified employment. However, given the circumstances in which women arrive from the neighboring country, without economic resources and support networks, they face greater barriers to enter the local labour market”.

In the case of female Venezuelan migrants, the gender gap deepens in regard to the educational level. They have a higher educational level than migrant men and Colombian women, however, their unemployment rate is 19.9% ​​compared to 7.6% for migrant men.

When it comes to childcare, just over 13% of unemployed men dedicate 12 hours to these activities, compared to 53% of unemployed women. In fact, these women state that they are unable to carry out job search activities due to their family responsibilities.

In the context of the pandemic, the vulnerability of migrant women can accentuate, given that 70.3% of them work in sectors with a high risk of job loss such as domestic service, hotels and restaurants, while 50.8% of Venezuelan men work in these sectors.

Advancing better working conditions for migrants begins by regularizing their immigration status. Although the national government has created special permits, the legal integration of these workers has been restricted in the last years. For this reason, Cuso recommends taking measures to promote the socioeconomic inclusion of this population in a progressive way.

Given the high educational level of Venezuelan women, Cuso also advises to find alternatives to validate their training, so the private sector can take advantage of their skills and the related opportunities for the productivity of local companies. The report also encourages banking systems develop inclusion processes for migrant populations.

In addition to the need of guaranteeing migrant population’s fundamental rights through decent work, the Cuso report highlights the benefits related to labour inclusion. “Most developed countries comprised of a robust migratory fabric. A great social pact is necessary, focusing on the benefits and opportunities that migration entails for the development of Colombia”, added Matos.

Read the research report here: https://bit.ly/2V19GNF

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About Cuso International

Cuso International is a Canadian charity focused on ending poverty and inequality. It works in partnership with governments, civil society organizations, multilateral agencies, and the private sector. It delivers programs aimed at advancing gender equality, promoting the empowerment of women and girls, and improving economic opportunities for young people. Each year, Cuso mobilizes hundreds of skilled volunteers who work alongside local partners to maximize their impact and build capacity.