Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive, yet in many of the countries, women farmers receive lower pay than men, are often unable to own land and struggle to access loans or training. Fairtrade’s Gender Strategy places special emphasis on training to strengthen women at producer organizations. As a result of Fairtrade Gender Strategy 2016- 2020, NAPP had launched its Gender Leadership school in 2019 with an aim to deliver a transformative approach to gender mainstreaming in the Fairtrade system. The school was designed for women from Fairtrade small producer organizations to increase their participation in the management and governance of their communities, organizations, and households. Its main objective is to develop participants’ skills in managing and applying human rights provisions on gender issues in their environment.
Pic: GLS Team from South East Asia
GLS has successfully completed its 2nd phase training in South and Southeast Asia in 2019 and 2020 with over 73 participants from across 08 countries (India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam & Pakistan). The program was also largely supported by men with almost equal participation as women (36 men & 37 women). The key topic of discussion involved Human rights and Women’s rights as the fundamental of human rights, Fairtrade Gender Strategy, Developing self-confidence, self-esteem and Resilience, Group Cohesion and Principles of Cooperation, Women, and Leadership, Women and the Economy
Pic: GLS Participants from India and Sri Lanka
While Central Asia completed its 3rd phase training in Feb 2020 with 16 participants, for South and South East Asia it remains postponed owing to the current pandemic. The training included 03 modules on Diversification of income and project management, Strategical negotiations and influence, and Masculinity and gender equality.
Pic: GLS Team from Central Asia
- The women have improved decision-making and management skills and can take voluntary management roles in farmers’ organizations and their communities.
- Increase in Participation of women at the co-operative level – GLS participants have ensured a Gender Balanced approach of participation in all the co-operative activities, as well as ensuring women come forward to participate in the activities.
- Tackling gender, age, and diversity issues. The project successfully opened various issues on gender and youth. This was partly due to the program style which was facilitated in a participatory way and due to the success in bringing together a diverse group. Women participants found the program easier than men, but both sexes gained significantly from it. The project style focussed on exploring social issues and relationships that women felt comfortable discussing.
- GLS participants have felt their presence across the NAPP region. Many producers’ organizations have seen the difference in leadership and the leading process in the co-operatives. The producers from GLS countries have now started putting a request to initiate and lead the GLS process in their respective countries.
Dharshani Raja Manikkam from Stassen Natural Foods (Pvt.) Ltd. (Idulgashina Bio Tea Garden); FLO ID: 1550 is highly creative and enjoys a good healthy, positive relationship with her co-workers and her officers. According to Dhana Lakshmi, the IT instructor in the estate, Darsini is very meticulous and systematic with her work. She is also an active member of all the committees operating in the estate and has an incredibly good rapport with the staff which in turn has helped her in taking the gender leadership project forward.
‘’Post the training the biggest difference I have felt in my life is understanding my rights and rights of others, mutual respect to male, female and transgender. I am aware of the concepts of harassment, child labor, and gender violence. It has motivated me to stand up for my rights. Now I have the power of knowledge.’’ – Yasmeen Anwar- Vision Technologies Corporation (Pvt) Ltd, FLO ID 1631
Another promising candidate and advocate of GLS and its gender strategy is Anjana Bijoy Kumar, who is the treasurer of Manarcadu Social Service Society (MASS), FLOD ID 19619. The society can buy extra land and develop a model farm with the support from Fairtrade Premium amount received. As the treasurer of MASS, she has been playing an influential role in the empowerment of staff in society and is an active participant of the Gender Leadership school. She has a good understanding of gender concepts and conducts her leadership program with activities that are easy to understand and makes learning a fun experience for the participants. She has also conducted training for the staff at MASS.