Fairtrade Pushes Gender Equality

We promote gender-positive interventions that will improve equality to women and men farmers and workers around the world.

The Problem

An estimated 60-80% of the world’s food is produced by women. Yet gender inequality remains prevalent in farming communities around the world and stands in the way of human progress around the world. This “gender gap” is particularly pronounced in agriculture, where women farmers have less access than their male counterparts to resources like land, information, credit, training and supplies.

Export crops – like cocoa and coffee – make up the majority of Fairtrade products. Those industries tend to be male dominated, with only 25% of Fairtrade’s members being women. However, Fairtrade still impacts the lives of members’ female relatives who often contribute equally to the production of commodities, though their work is seldom recognized or rewarded.

Fairtrade's Approach to Gender Equality

Fairtrade recognizes that gender is one of many factors that influences power dynamics, as part of an intersectional web of race, class, identity or ability. Social issues present in value chains can vary culturally and regionally, making it vital that gender interventions work within the context of the communities where we operate. Thus, Fairtrade’s gender strategy supports producer organizations to tackle unequal power relationships, by strengthening women and girls’ human, social, financial and physical capital and to rebalance power structures between persons of different genders.

Check out Fairtrade’s full gender strategy here.

Every Fairtrade certified producer organization commits to criteria within the Fairtrade Standards that help increase gender equality. These include prohibiting discrimination for marital status, gender or pregnancy; maternity leave and protection for women in accordance with national laws; and protection against sexual intimidation, abuse and exploitation. Producer organizations must also identify any disadvantaged or minority groups in their area and institute programs to support their inclusion and status improvement in the organization.

Fairtrade goes beyond the standards to support gender mainstreaming in all aspects of our work. For example, the Women’s School of Leadership in Cote d’Ivoire gives women of cocoa producing communities the opportunity to gain skills in finance, negotiation and decision-making. They will be empowered to take this back to their communities both to train other women, and to spread greater awareness of gender equality’s potential to lift up women and men.

Many Fairtrade brands, like Divine Chocolate and Kishé Coffee, have strong gender-equality missions. By spreading the word to consumers, commitment to funding women’s empowerment programs for producers and sourcing from women-owned cooperatives, brands like these take their Fairtrade commitment to an even deeper level.

Read more about the exciting ways Fairtrade is collaborating with brands and producers to support gender equality.