New UN panel for Womens Economic Empowerment

Today, the UN launched the first High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Today, the UN launched the first High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Founding member, UK’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening said the panel aims to “unlock the potential of half the world’s population”.

Fairtrade welcomes such recognition from the UN, World Bank and UK Government of the crucial role that women can and should play in improving the global economic growth, whilst urging focus on empowering women farmers in developing countries. Fairtrade Foundation’s study Equal Harvest outlines the barriers facing women in agriculture and recommends how businesses, donors and governments can address them.

Barbara Crowther, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, said;

“Women have been excluded from businesses all over the world for too long so we welcome this new panel, recognising that members have a lot of catching up to do if they want to close the gender gap in agriculture.

“Whilst women make up nearly half of the agricultural workforce, just 20% of women farmers are registered to Fairtrade co-operatives because women own far less land than men, which is usually a requirement for the membership of such organisations.  Women also less livestock or other assets and are therefore often denied credit but, as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has previously said, overcoming such inequalities could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 150 million.

“Empowering women to take up leadership positions and increasing gender equality in supply chains is good for business and communities. At Fairtrade, the women we have supported with training or gaining membership of cooperative boards have made huge improvements to their businesses and invested Fairtrade Premium funds in improving water, healthcare and education for the benefit of the community. But to deliver on a greater scale, we call upon the UN’s new panel to take action to remove the barriers that are currently holding women back and give them resources to contribute to the global economy.”


Globally women make up 43% of the agricultural workforce but own less assets, have less access to credit and are rarely targeted by extension services that improve production. Because men own more land, women are widely under-represented in the membership and leadership of farmer and worker organisations that grow many of the UK staples, such as bananas, coffee and tea. Just 22 per cent of the farmers officially registered to Fairtrade-certified producer organisations around the world are women, however evidence shows much greater involvement of women in improving the lives of their communities in reality.

Fairtrade’s report Equal Harvest recommends that to close this gender gap, women need finance, access to training, employment in more senior positions and membership of co-operatives and farmer associations. The report outlines recommendations to help businesses and governments redress the balance.

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About Fairtrade

The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.5 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 74 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.

Over 5,000 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney, rice, quinoa, herbs & spices, seeds, nuts, wines, ales, rum, confectionery, muesli, cereal bars, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.

Awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark continues to be high in 2014, at a level of 78%. Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2013 exceeded £1.7 billion.

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