Minority and Indigenous Trends 2022

Focus on work

Work is central to a whole host of other rights, providing the basis for a safe, healthy and dignified existence. For members of minorities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups such as migrants, however, it is all too often an arena of discrimination, abuse and exploitation. From poor pay and dangerous working conditions to a lack of basic labour protections and barriers to promotion, the challenges they face are wide ranging and often entangled in other areas of inequality, such as access to education.


For members of minorities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups, work is all too often an arena of discrimination, abuse and exploitation.

Executive Summary

A truly fair and inclusive labour market would deliver a wide range of economic and societal benefits, creating opportunities for marginalized workers.

Thematic chapters

The implications of the globalized extractive trading model for communities, environment and work: An urgent need for system change

Joshua Castellino

Addressing barriers to equitable employment for minorities and indigenous peoples: The need for a holistic approach

Michael Caster

Living in the shadow of caste-based discrimination: A profile of Dalits, Burakumin and Roma

Suraj Yengde

Case studies



Education and training

Extractives and natural resources

Manufacturing and logistics

Precarious work


Slavery and its legacy

Traditional livelihoods


The need for cheap, readily available manual labour to cultivate and pick produce means the agricultural sector is especially prone to exploitation of its workers. This tendency is reinforced by the fact that migrants frequently make up much of the agricultural workforce in the global north, meaning that the inherently precarious nature of wage labour and seasonal work is underlined by other power imbalances.


The exploitation of Mexican and Caribbean migrant workers in Ontario’s agricultural sector

Miriam Puttick


The exploitation of migrant workers in the ‘Sea of Plastic’

Laura Quintana Soms


From housing to infrastructure, construction plays a central role in many national development programmes and is often justified for the jobs, investment and wealth it will supposedly bring to marginalized urban neighbourhoods or rural areas. Yet without proper consultation and a broader commitment to equality, the impacts on communities can be devastating. In some cases, such development can lead to the destruction of heritage, homes and livelihoods.


Destroying heritage in the name of development – the monastery of Abu al-Darag

Alaa Saad


Ending the exploitation of its migrant worker population

Malcolm Bidali

Education and training

Education and training are central to the realization of equitable work opportunities. For many members of minorities and indigenous peoples, limited access to adequate schooling and a lack of upskilling options later in life can lead to a lifetime of poorly paid, exploitative employment. However, there is also a need for awareness raising within businesses and public agencies to address deep-seated patterns of discrimination that deny some groups the opportunity to improve their prospects.


A new approach is needed to ensure equality in the work place for autistic people

Luciana Viegas


How digital training for refugees is opening doors to employment

Alice Tofts

United Kingdom

‘Why is it we’re still faced with these same challenges?’ – the problem of racial inequality in academia

Nicola Rollock and Alice Tofts

Extractives and natural resources

Minorities and indigenous peoples have been disproportionately affected by mining, oil production and other extractive industries, especially when these have taken place on their ancestral land without their consent. Alongside the environmental and health implications, the impacts on livelihoods and income generation for local communities are often severe. In some cases, rather than being consulted and compensated for the loss of territory, the inhabitants are themselves displaced to accommodate these activities.


Shifting the axis – the need to ensure Indigenous concerns as the new standard of leadership in climate talks

Alicia Kromer, Jeanne Deniau and Rosa Marina Cruz


Sámi livelihoods under threat as mining in the Arctic gathers pace

Oula Antti-Labba


The impact of mining on pastoralist livelihoods in Karamoja

Billy Rwothungeyo

Manufacturing and logistics

Through the increasing globalization of supply chains, labour rights violations have the potential to implicate not only the countries where they occur but governments, businesses and consumers on the other side of the world. Many products, such as clothing, can be manufactured at low cost and in plentiful quantities thanks to the exploitation of underpaid, vulnerable workers (often drawn heavily from minorities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups) before being sold elsewhere: in many cases, in places where such practices would be illegal.


How Uyghur forced labour is driving global cotton production

Michael Caster

United States of America

For Black Americans, unionization continues to offer the hope of better working conditions

Menka Sandrasagren

Precarious work

For members of minorities, indigenous peoples and migrant populations, work is frequently characterized by the absence of even basic benefits and protections. From wage labourers and street vendors to uncontracted workers in the gig economy, marginalized groups are disproportionately represented in informal employment. For many, this means living in a constant state of insecurity that at a time of crisis — the outbreak of Covid-19, for example — can leave them destitute.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

Afghans escaping the Taliban face new challenges as refugees

Ali Amani and Mohammad Amiri

Dominican Republic

Lack of documentation leaves Dominicans of Haitian descent on the margins

Laura Quintana Soms


For displaced Roma, the conflict has exacerbated existing patterns of discrimination – and left them without an income

Viola Popenko


While service workers undertake some of the most important functions for society, their contributions are routinely undervalued – and even more so when these tasks are performed by marginalized groups. From frontline health care to public transport, minorities, indigenous peoples and migrants frequently comprise a large part of the service workforce.


From employment barriers to food insecurity, the challenges of the pandemic have only intensified for First Nations Australians with disabilities

June Riemer and Karen Soldatic


Migrant domestic workers and the struggle for visibility

Rania el Rajji


‘We are fighting for justice, and it has a cost’ – the plight of Christian sanitation workers

Asif Aqeel and Mary Gill


Discrimination against Roma in the labour market

Boris Sijerković

Slavery and its legacy

Slavery is now prohibited across the world, but it still casts a shadow over many communities who historically suffered enslavement. The effects can range from social stigma and labour discrimination to the persistence of servitude in other forms. Transforming this reality requires not only legal reform but also a transformation of societal attitudes that continue to stigmatize the descendants of slaves, generations on.


For many Haratines, slavery has simply developed into new forms of discrimination

Aboubekrine e Yehdhih

North Africa

Despite guarantees of equality, black citizens still face barriers to equitable employment

Silvia Quattrini


Tourism can offer an important source of livelihood for minority and indigenous communities, providing an opportunity for local people to earn an income through employment in the sector and by providing accommodation, handicrafts and guided tours showcasing their history, heritage and natural environment. Yet all too often, the sector can be exploitative and monopolized by vested interests, causing more harm than good.


With ‘business as usual’ suspended during the pandemic, Hawai‘i turned to its traditions for answers

Joshua Cooper


With the future of labour migration uncertain, tourism could offer a lifeline for Pamir’s marginalized minorities


Traditional livelihoods

Minorities and indigenous peoples frequently practise specific livelihood activities, such as pastoralist herding, that are threatened by a variety of forces including climate change, environmental destruction, development programmes and displacement.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

For Batwa in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, ‘fortress conservation’ has robbed communities of land and traditional livelihoods

Colin Luoma

Southeast Asia

Without safeguards, conservation efforts could undermine the traditional livelihoods of seafaring indigenous peoples

Nicole Girard


The disconnection of the San community from the modern economy

Keith Phiri

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