Businesses should ‘smash the glass ceiling’ for women farmers who play a vital role in global nut production, according to a new report by Twin and Fairtrade.
The findings show that despite women being active at all stages of agricultural production, they continue to face a glass ceiling when it comes to transporting crops to market and completing the sale. These tasks are almost universally done by men, who subsequently retain much of the control over household income.
It found that many businesses are unaware of the crucial role women play in supplying the ingredients they depend on, as this contribution is often unrecognised, unpaid and invisible.
In addition, women are largely responsible for shelling and grading nuts as crucial parts of the production process that influence quality, taste and food safety.
The report, ‘Empowering Women Farmers in Agricultural Value Chains’, was run by ethical trade body Twin and funded by the Fairtrade Association. It used interviews with 14 producer groups in Ghana, India, Malawi, Nicaragua, Peru and Rwanda and surveyed the production and processing of nuts, as well as cocoa and coffee.
Nicolas Mounard, managing director of Twin, said that investing in women and giving them leadership opportunities results in smarter, better use of money. “The invaluable role women farmers play in ensuring consistent, quality products may be unseen by business, but should not be forgotten.”
Chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation Michael Gidney said: “The report shows what we have known for far too long to be true, that women play a crucial but unrecognised role in global food production. That’s why Fairtrade is working with businesses to invest in gender focused policies, training and income generating initiatives targeted at women to provide greater impact on women farmers’ lives.”
The report recommends that businesses develop corporate gender policies that recognise the role of women farmers and encourage suppliers to commit to equal representation for women in leadership within producer organisations.