Addressing the gender gap
The goal of Fairtrade is to make sure women in producer communities are represented, their voices are heard, and they are empowered to access Fairtrade benefits.
The gender gap continues to be a serious global issue. While we are making progress every day, there is still a great divide in the opportunities and rights women can access compared to men. This is especially true for women involved in agriculture in developing countries.
For women involved in agriculture in developing countries, there are many reasons life can be hard. Local laws or society’s expectations often make it more difficult for women to earn a fair income, own land or have a say in the future of their cooperatives or communities. While women make up roughly 43 per cent of the global agricultural labour force and produce 60-80 per cent of the world’s food supply, they make up only 10-20 per cent of landowners in developing countries.
If a woman is empowered, then the house will also be empowered, economically and socially.
Elizabeth — Kabngetuny Coffee Cooperative, Kenya
This inequality in land ownership can have some pretty far-reaching effects, not just on women but for their children and the wider community. This can include anything from exclusion during local meetings to international trade deals being developed where the varying needs of men and women are not considered because the women, quite simply, are not in attendance. It can also prevent them from opportunities to take on leadership roles.
So how is Fairtrade working towards equity?
Fairtrade has embedded gender equality into our programs. This means, to be a Fairtrade producer there are strict rules and regulations that stamp out bias and discrimination based purely on gender. We work with farmers to implement gender policies and goals. A producer organisation that doesn’t support equality cannot be Fairtrade certified.
Requirements for producer organisations include:
- No discrimination on the basis of gender or marital status
- Zero tolerance of behaviour that is sexually intimidating, abusive or exploitative
- No testing for pregnancy when recruiting workers
- Programs to support disadvantaged and minority groups, such as women
- Developing a gender policy, over time.
We want women to be empowered to increase their participation in the governance process, to participate in workshops such as leadership programs and to get savvy when it comes to market info, getting credit and improving how they farm.
Fairtrade also has a number of programs internationally that seek to develop ambassadors – of all genders - for women’s rights in their own communities. One of these programs is the Women’s School of Leadership.
Fairtrade also has a number of programs internationally that seek to develop ambassadors – of all genders – for women’s rights in their own communities. One of these programs is the Women’s School of Leadership.