Promoting gender equality in foreign agricultural investments: Lessons from voluntary sustainability standards
This report (PDF) published by IISD analyzes the gender-related content of five major global agricultural sustainability standards and five principles for responsible investment in agriculture. It contributes to the emerging literature on the gendered impacts of the contemporary wave of foreign agricultural investments. The outcomes of agricultural investments for men and women often differ in rural areas of the Global South where gender inequalities are persistent. Barriers to women’s access to productive resources— production inputs, credit and training—reduce female agricultural producers’ yields by 20–30 per cent from their full potential. Further, culturally based gender discrimination often leaves women with a heavier burden for care work, diminishes their access to education, restricts their access to land and limits options for decent paid work. The evidence presented in this paper indicates that these inequalities are often exacerbated by foreign agricultural investments, unless investors and host country governments work to ensure that investment contracts address the needs of women farmers and agricultural workers. The authors urge a focus on implementation and practice; adopting a gender-equality approach; engaging women as partners in developing and implementing principles; and accounting for localized gender norms. The document concludes with specific recommendations for investors, host governments, local communities and civil society organizations.