Women produce more than half of the world’s food, yet control of the means of production is still dominated by men. Fairtrade is committed to tackling gender inequality, which remains a major barrier to human development. An example of what women engaged with Fairtrade have achieved can be seen in the first all-female cooperative “Koperasi Kopi Wanita Gayo” from South East Asia.
However, women’s participation generically speaking continues to be cause for concern in Fairtrade. In 2015, only around a quarter of all farmers and hired workers were women. This proportion has been fairly static for the past three years across all three regions. Overall, there were more than 415,000 women farmers and women workers in certified organizations in 2015.
The majority of women farmers and hired workers are producing coffee and tea. Interestingly, most of the female coffee farmers and most of female tea farmers and hired workers are based in Africa and the Middle East.
In Africa more than 90 percent of the women in Fairtrade tea production are members of a farmers’ cooperative. By contrast, almost all the women working in the tea sector in Asia are hired labourers. Less than a quarter – 22 percent – of all Fairtrade farmers across the three regions are women. In Africa, 24 percent are women. Of that number, 46 percent are coffee farmers and 28 percent are tea farmers. 20 percent of Fairtrade farmers in Latin America are women of which almost three-quarters – 72 percent – produce coffee. Only 11 percent of Fairtrade farmers in Asia are women and almost half – 46 percent – produce coffee.
Women make up nearly half – 49 percent – of all Fairtrade hired labour. Dried fruit, fruit juice, flowers, tea and sports balls have the biggest female workforces. Tea plantations and flower farms alone employ almost 90 percent of all female Fairtrade hired workers -62 percent in tea and 27 percent on flower farms.
43 percent of all hired workers in Africa and the Middle East are women. Of that number, 68 per cent work on flower plantations. 57 per cent of the workers in Asia and Pacific are women – 95 percent of whom work on tea plantations. Less than one-third -27 percent – of hired labourers in Latin America are women, and just under half – 44 percent – work in the vegetable sector.