Towards gender equality and empowerment in global supply chains

As IDH we believe women are key to drive growth and sustainability. However, the possibilities for women to engage in supply chains is currently limited.  To address this concern, IDH has developed the Gender Toolkit, consisting of practical case examples from IDH and similar projects in sectors that we work in, and of our IDH Gender Guide, where we explore opportunities to integrate gender aspects in different programming steps of projects and inventions. Following these steps may positively influence your project or intervention and leverage greater impact. Our IDH Gender Toolkit aims to raise awareness, encourage, and inspire to integrate gender aspects into supply chain approaches. More examples can be found below, under our publications.


IDH is proud to highlight the following developments:

  • Integrating a gender lens into financial inclusion programs

    As more companies seek to introduce financial inclusion programs for workers in their supply chains, there is a need to understand the role that local gender norms and dynamics have on the effectiveness of financial inclusion.

    Read more
    Integrating a gender lens into financial inclusion programs
  • IDH Gender Tool

    To further explore and understand gender dynamics in our work to improve the lives of smallholder farmers, we have worked with Dalberg Advisors to design this Gender Tool that can be used by our teams and service providers to conduct an in-house gender analysis at different touchpoints.

    Read more
    IDH Gender Tool
  • KPIs to track and evaluate gender-equality interventions

    To empower more organizations to invest in their workforce and ensure the equal treatment of women and men, a harmonized set of key performance indicators (KPIs) has been created to record and monitor the costs and outcomes of investing in policy change in the workplace.

    Read more
    KPIs to track and evaluate gender-equality interventions

Listen to our podcast

Embedding gender equality

Gender is a key impact theme in IDH’s 2016-2020 strategic plan, in which we set out to embed gender equality into our transformation strategy. In many sectors we work in, women play a role in the supply chain: through production of food crops and sales of cash crops, through employment as workers on commercial farms, and also as traders and processors. However, often women have fewer opportunities for progression and are more vulnerable to exploitation.

So, what does IDH aim to do? First and foremost, through IDH interventions we commit to do no harm. This is the practice of ensuring that existing gender relations and dynamics within the scope of the program are not negatively influenced or affected. We will consider how women and men participate in and benefit from these interventions, and strive to benefit both and harm neither. Next to this, IDH will focus on increasing gender awareness throughout the organization and its work, and aim to integrate gender in selected sectors or landscape programs.

The IDH approach to gender equality and empowerment comprises 3 core elements.



Challenges to gender equality and empowerment

In many sectors that IDH engages with, women play a role in the supply chain; for example, through production of food crops and sales of cash crops, employment as workers on commercial farms, and as traders and processors. However, often women suffer from fewer opportunities to progress and are more vulnerable to exploitation. At this moment, women make up around 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and even more women are employed in agriculture globally (70% in South Asia, 60% in Sub-Saharan Africa). Despite this, fewer than 20% of the world’s landholders are women.

Our approach

Gender is a key impact theme in IDH’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, in which we set out to embed gender equality into our transformation strategy.

Sector governance

IDH convenes local, national and international public-private partnerships that support national sustainability strategies, and benchmarking of standards. These sector interventions are crucial to address sustainability challenges that cannot be addressed by individual players alone, and more importantly need both public and private sector for creating a more conducive and enabling environment to strive for gender equality.


Field level sustainability

Training and awareness raising activities play an important role to address gender issues, both at farm level as well as manufacturing or factory level. Through training and awareness raising, it is expected that the gender balance will improve, resulting in improved safety (reduction of gender based violence) in the workplace and an empowered, happy and productive workforce, ultimately leading to improved productivity and gender equality.


Business practices

IDH works with the private sector to integrate and strengthen gender into existing structures, and convenes multi-stakeholder platforms to share best practices and develop a joint agenda for action. The aim is to create gender smart business practices along supply chains by implementing different approaches that demonstrate the business case, which then can be replicated and scaled across other sectors.




Title Type Year
How we are making a difference – Gender Kenya Impact Study 2019
IDH Gender Toolkit and Guide Tool kit 2019
Securing cocoa supply through a sector wide women’s empowerment community approach Tool kit 2019
66% higher retention rate in apparel factories through career advancement programs targeting women’s needs Tool kit 2019
30% increased yields for female onion producers through access to finance Tool kit 2019


Watch the following videos to learn more about our work towards gender equality and empowerment

  • Increased gender awareness

    In India, as part of a broader gender sensitization activity across IDH programs, 2,000 Field Facilitators have been trained on gender awareness in their work. Through their trainings, the Field Facilitators reach over 1 million cotton, spice and grape farmers across India. The learnings from the training also serve as input to further design gender-balanced interventions and trainings across India. Watch this video to learn more.

    Read more
    Increased gender awareness
  • Towards gender equity in Tanzanian coffee farming household

    In Tanzania, IDH and partners are providing trainings in agronomy and access to finance for women in coffee farming households. This short film provides an example of women that are empowered to become equal business partners, making coffee a family business.

    Read more
    Towards gender equity in Tanzanian coffee farming household
  • More gender-balanced workplaces

    In Kenya and Ethiopia, the tea and flowers programs work towards safer and more gender-equal workplaces. Hear from our partners why they find it important to work towards a gender-balanced workplace.

    Read more
    More gender-balanced workplaces

Where we strive for gender equity and empowerment

Select an option...

Contact us to learn more

There are two kinds of companies: those that sell sustainable products... and those that will...


Your browser is too old to optimally experience this website. Upgrade your browser to improve your experience.