Be Bold with IDH on International Women’s Day

As IDH we believe women are key to drive growth and sustainability. Yet their potential to do so is still hampered. Action is required at different levels.

IDH applauds and encourages different activities that are being celebrated today on International Women’s day, as well as 16 days of activism against gender based violence and the recently established She Decides initiative. This initiative secures that women and girls all over the world are able to exercise the right to decide if they want to have children, when they want to have them and with whom. As IDH we are stepping up our effort to ensure gender equality in global supply chains through the public-private partnerships that we bring together.

Gender in our transformation strategy

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. For IDH gender is a key driver as well as a key concern for sustainability in both supply chains and landscapes. IDH works in many sectors where 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 to progression and are more vulnerable to exploitation. In our work we see that women often do not own any assets and at farmer trainings its more often the men turning up although women do most of the work. Looking at the current statistics, women make up around 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, and even more women are employed in agriculture (70% in South Asia, 60% in Sub-Saharan Africa), however less than 20% of the world’s landholders are women.

Neither IDH nor our stakeholders have sufficient knowledge and experience on the “how-to question”. We need to step up our act. Therefore, IDH has committed resources to this impact theme and an (expert) learning network is under development.

With a partner base of 350 public and private partners, united in 11 commodity and 11 landscapes programs, and active in 40 countries, IDH is committed to making an impact on gender equality through the work we do in global supply chains.

How are we planning to do this?        

The IDH gender proposition has 3 core elements, with each different levels of engagement and depth in terms of our interventions.

Gender equality can be a goal in itself, and also a precondition to realize deeper impact through our ongoing interventions in other impact areas by applying a gender lens on smallholder inclusion, improved working conditions and living wage, reducing deforestation and responsible agrochemical management.

For the remainder of 2017, IDH will focus on further operationalizing its gender proposition and aims to develop a strong learning network around gender related issues with our partners.

What are we doing so far?

Improving the economic position of women and reducing gender based violence

IDH is addressing worker management dialogues in the apparel industry with the aim to improve the position of women. In the coffee sector the Sustainable Coffee Program in collaboration with Hivos and Agri Profocus developed a toolkit for coffee farmers addressing inequalities that women and youth face in the coffee supply chain. Also in our tea and flowers programs efforts to address gender issues are made.

In the tea sector in Kenya, IDH started work on gender in 2012 through its partnership with the Ethical Tea Partnership and the Kenya Tea Development Agency focusing on gender, discrimination and harassment through a social issues program reaching over 1000 managers, supervisors and staff members. This led to the following concrete achievements:

  • 50% of women in supervisor position and 33% of women in management positions.
  • More equal employment opportunities, women taking on more roles that were traditionally reserved by men (e.g. truck driver).
  • All factories have sexual harassment and discrimination policies in place and grievance, complaints, and disciplinary procedures are included in induction training for new workers.

In 2016, IDH convened a platform in Kenya with several tea companies to create a joint agenda for action to address gender based violence (GBV) in the sector and share best practices. IDH will be publishing a common training manual on addressing GBV in the Kenyan tea industry this month, and we are developing a roadmap for plantation management on addressing GBV alongside field level projects to implement the roadmap. And Kenya is only the starting point.

In the flowers sector in Ethiopia, IDH through the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative has carried out a gender program with EPHEA in partnership with BSR HERproject, reaching 7,000 workers and 400 peer educators trained on hygiene, nutrition, family planning and gender based violence. This has led to:

  • 59% of women in the targeted farms (7,000) increased their level of awareness of their rights regarding protection from sexual harassment and were better informed about hygiene, nutrition, family planning and reproductive health.
  • 46% of the pilot project farms (12) developed and started implementing a Gender Policy.
  • 62% of the project farms (16) had active gender committees and had an effective reporting system.

A 2nd phase of the project has started in 2017 and aims to increase the health and gender knowledge, behavior, and access of 20,000 general workers of target farms.  The second objective of this 3 year project is to improve the practices, policies, and procedures of the 12 pilot farms and 30 new farms to support gender sensitive management, prevention of harassment, and worker welfare.