Women are very important as producers and workers in most value chains, and their importance in supplying national and international markets with both traditional and high value products such as textiles, coffee and cocoa has increased significantly over the past few decades. However, at the same time there is increasing evidence that women are marginalised or excluded from the more profitable agricultural and manufacturing chains and/or the profitable parts of these chains. Women-owned businesses face many more constraints than those of men, and receive fewer financial and nonfinancial services. In multinational manufacturing and agricultural chains, even where enterprises are governed by ethical codes, there is often an explicit policy to enforce gender division of labour based on gender stereotypes, reserving permanent and full-time work for men and arbitrarily assigning lower value to women’s work. In commodities like coffee and cocoa, women often do the bigger part of the cultivation work. But because the land usually belongs to their husbands, women are not eligible to join many cooperatives or receive credit and are not targeted in technical training. Lack of credit also excludes women from participation in the more profitable downstream trading activities. Moreover, women are often unable to seek out the best markets for their products due to their work overload (cultivation, barter trade, caring for children), lack of money for transport, and sometimes threats of gender-based violence. Because men own the land they also consider themselves entitled to control all the money from the cash crop.
WEMAN is developing community-led frameworks, guidelines and models for gender mainstreaming in market and value chain analysis, capacity-building and development to identify explicit strategies for women’s empowerment as part of ‘win-win’ strategies. This includes:
- community-led gender action learning on women's economic rights, including property rights
- GALS-based capacity building and business development services
- value chain finance, linked to the WEMAN financial services initiatives
- mainstreaming gender justice and labour rights in Corporate Social Responsibility and ethical certification.
- Training materials and capacity-building with market and value chain development organisations.