Speaker: Alexis Handal, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Professor of Global Public Health
School of Public Health, University of Michigan
Title: Women and Work: Implications for MCH, Child Development, and Health Equity -- A Perspective from Latin America
Abstract: Industrial agriculture is an increasingly important component of the economies of low- and middle- income countries, with a large percentage of the goods produced for use in industrialized and high-income countries. Women of reproductive age are an integral part of the labor force of corporate agricultural industry; however, few studies have detailed the occupational hazards confronted by women employed in these industries. A 2013 report by the International Labor Organization stated that more than 100 million women in Latin America and the Caribbean are part of the formal labor force, with the majority of reproductive age - a trend that continues currently. Many of these women in this region are employed in export-led agro-industries. The Ecuadorian cut-flower industry is a key example and provides an opportunity to evaluate the occupational, environmental and social impacts of large-scale agricultural production for export on nearby communities and on female workers, specifically pregnant workers, and their children. This talk will describe the SEMILLA (Study of Environmental Exposure of Mothers and Infants Impacted by Large-Scale Agriculture) birth cohort study, which follows pregnant women (workers and non-workers) and their infants in a flower-growing region of Ecuador to assess how toxic chemical exposure, combined with key social and structural factors, impacts maternal health and child growth and development.