Around 60-80 percent of the world’s food is grown by women. Yet they often don’t own the land and see little of the profit made from it. Fairtrade works to address this gender gap.

Studies show that while women’s role in farming has increased over time, women have less access to resources such as land, inputs, information, credit and training. This in turn reinforces patterns of female disempowerment.

According to our data, women make up just 25 percent of the smallholder farmers and workers involved directly in Fairtrade. However, these figures do not account for the many women who work the land that is owned by their husbands or other male relatives. Women are historically also often overlooked when it comes to leadership roles. The challenge is to make sure that these women are represented and their voices are heard.

How Fairtrade addresses Gender equality

Fairtrade is helping to challenge the gender gap, enabling women to stake their claim and succeed on their own terms. Fairtrade Standards are designed to prevent gender inequality, increase female participation and empower more women and girls to access the benefits of Fairtrade.

Requirements for Producer Organisations include: 

. No discrimination on the basis of gender or marital status
. Zero tolerance of behaviour that is sexually intimidating, abusive or exploitative
. No testing for pregnancy when recruiting workers
. Programmes to support disadvantaged and minority groups, such as women
. Developing a gender policy, over time

We are also working beyond the Standards to increase women’s role in Fairtrade producer organizations and to ensure they receive equal benefits.

. Producer networks are rolling out women’s schools of leadership, enabling women to learn business, negotiation and finance skills. Many of these women go on to take on leadership and committee positions within their cooperatives and communities.
. Many Fairtrade Premium projects directly benefit women, enabling changes to decision making and governance structures in certified producer organizations, and improving economic opportunities. For example, the Del Campo nut cooperative in Nicaragua uses their Fairtrade Premium to support women’s emerging businesses.
. Many producer organizations are undertaking gender analyses of their organizations and piloting new gender equality programmes, gender committees and policies.
. Through advocacy work and collaboration with trade unions and NGOs we are pushing for gender equality and interventions to enhance women’s well-being and empowerment.

The Fairtrade Gender Strategy seeks to attain gender equality and women’s empowerment in producer organizations through building women’s and girls’ power and agency. The strategy aims to deliver a transformative approach to gender mainstreaming in the Fairtrade system.


As a part of the Fairtrade Gender Strategy 2016-2020, the first flagship program of Fairtrade NAPP Gender Leadership Schools was launched in 2019 in Central, South East and South Asia with the main objective of providing equal “Opportunities, Access and Benefits” for both women and men in the supply chain.


  • To develop and enhance:
  1. Leadership skills: create equal leadership opportunities in farming.
  2. Business skills: create powerful tool for women to grow as entrepreneurs and managers.
  3. Practical skills: an added advantage for negotiations and group decision-making.
  • To create awareness on gender equality.
  • To promote Gender -inclusive businesses and , a significant percentage of women as farmer suppliers etc.
  • To train men to help them better understand the challenges women face, become role models themselves and promote gender equality in their communities.

Launch of Fairtrade NAPP Gender Leadership School

The 1st NAPP Gender Leadership School was launched in  Central Asia on 4th Feb 2019, covering 25 women and 5 men, producing Fairtrade certified cotton and walnuts.

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The 2nd NAPP Gender Leadership School (GLS) was launched in Southeast Asia on June 2019 covering 12 women and 8 men joined from Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Philippines representing 20 Fairtrade small producer organizations (SPOs) of Coffee, Sugar, Coconut, Coconut Sugar, Rice and, Herbs and Spices.

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The 3rd  Fairtrade NAPP Gender Leadership School’ was launched in India on June 2019

The 4th Fairtrade NAPP Gender Leadership School’ was launched in Pakistan on July 11 2019 covering 30 participants (15 Females 15 Men) from 11 SPOs

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Gender Leadership 03 Phase Training

NAPP works to improve the lives of all farmers and producers in developing countries, especially women in agriculture who face even more challenges than men when it comes to earning fair wages, owning land or having a say in the future of cooperatives, unions or communities.

Thus, NAPP Gender Leadership School focusses on training in business skills which can be a powerful tool for women, providing practical training in skills such as finance, negotiation, decision-making power in groups/ collectives organizations and creating awareness on gender equality. The school also trains men, helping them promote the value of gender equality in their communities and be a model in the joint decision-making process and focus on holistic development of their community.

Over 100 participants (men and women ) enrolled for the program and underwent a 01 Year Training on enhancing practical, leadership and business skills based on inclusivity and equality.

To have both women and men in the Leadership school meant to help them reflect on the roles they performed as an individual and as a part of the supply chain that could gradually lead in establishing a sustainable foundation for a Gender equal agricultural society. This approach was aligned to the Fairtrade Strategic Framework 2016-2020 which seeks to demonstrate how markets can bring transformative change and become empowering if they are based on justice, equity and sustainability.

We believe that the NAPP Gender Leadership School would be a transforming initiative for a Gender Equity in Agricultural Supply Chain. Through this year-long training, interactive process, we intend to become role models. This exposure would give wide learning both to individual participants and NAPP in terms of Gender Equity in Asia and Pacific along the line of Agriculture supply chain.

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Convocation Ceremony of Fairtrade NAPP Gender Leadership School in Central Asia and South East Asia 

2021 was the year for the flag bearers of Fairtrade NAPP Gender  Leadership School as a  group of 89 participants ( 56 women and 33 men)  from 07 countries headed into 2021 with a new ambition bolstered by improved skills to foster female leadership and battle gender inequality.

The Gender Leaders were awarded with certificates that qualifies them as the ‘A’ level trainer ready to implement Gender-based activities at their respective SPOs along with the support from the NAPP country focal point and NAPP Gender desk.


  • The women have improved decision-making and management skills and can take voluntary management roles in farmers’ organizations and their communities.
  • Increased 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 helped in exploring social issues and relationships that women felt comfortable discussing about. 

Convocation Ceremony of Fairtrade NAPP Gender Leadership School in South Asia 

After the convocation of  Central Asia and Southeast Asia in 2021, 15 participants from Sri Lanka and India ( 12 physical, 03 virtual) came together for a refresher training and to complete their GLS Mini project proposals under the leadership school. They successfully completed their 3rd phase which was delayed since 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The 1st day of the training began with the introduction of the participants and their briefing on the work they had accomplished among young women and youth after the first two phases of the Gender Leadership School. The introduction was followed by a refresher training on  Human and Gender rights from the first module.  The participants referred to 30 excerpts from various newspapers and explained their own understanding of the articles.

There were afternoon discussions on the Fairtrade Gender Strategy and the goals of empowering women and young girls in Fairtrade.  The participants felt that when women become leaders, they have better negotiation terms, both for themselves and for their families which in turn can bring a transformative approach to gender mainstreaming in the Fairtrade system.

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Launch of  Small Entrepreneurships Projects supported by GLS Platform

To support the participants to take on Leadership and Management roles in their communities, organizations, and households, Small Entrepreneurships Projects (GLS Mini Projects) were supported through the GLS Platform.


In Pakistan the Small Entrepreneurships Projects has directly benefitted 90 staffs of 03 Fairtrade Producer Organisations

 “Setting up of Kitchen Gardening” Training and assistance for 30 Staffs (10 male & 20 female) of Vision Technologies as an alternative livelihood project.

Kitchen gardening ensures availability of fresh and organic products for home consumption thereby filling the gap in health and nutritional needs of women in an economical way. It helps them save additional grocery expenses and enhance their income. It also generates self-employment and food security within the household and community social life.  The livelihood assistance was appreciated by the stakeholders.  The results were eminent in poor household community members who were keen to learn how to grow vegetables on a small scale to fulfil their needs. The Project has supported the beneficiaries in adopting an alternative livelihood.

A follow up plan will be done to ensure that techniques are practiced on a large scale with market linkages to assist the ecological and economic development in the project area.

Vocational and Skill training” and assistance to 26 staffs (04 men & 22 women) of  Masoom support Foundation as an additional means of livelihood for the women.

The Project was targeted at marginalized and low-income community members.  In Pakistan, the men acquire tailoring skills by working at a tailor’s shop for years together without any certificates to recognise their skills. Through the GLS Mini Project, 22 women and 4 men received the platform to learn the stitching skill. The women can start their own business on a small scale and generate an additional source of income to secure their livelihood.  The trainees will need more time and opportunities to learn the advanced level of stitching for benefitting on a larger commercial scale.

“Cooking and Catering Skills” for 08 Staffs ( 04 women and 04 men) at  Anwar Khawaja Industries.

The Project was a unique idea initiated by the producer organisation for improving the online business skills of women to help them combat the hardships during the pandemic. Food is the basic necessity of everyone and acquiring the catering skill can help someone to cook and deliver home-made hygiene food at a commercial scale to generate an additional income. Since the pandemic has changed the trend from dine in to take away or online delivery, the project serves as a viable model and will not require extra place and equipment to run the business.

South East Asia

In South East Asia 07 SPOs from Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Laos have been granted the Small Entrepreneurships Projects on Income diversification and  enhancing leadership capacity of the members.

The Projects are in rolling stage and will target 200 participants:

  • Gayo Openwork Handicrafts Project at Permata Gayo in Indonesia
  • Digital Marketing on Lazada and Shopee for coffee products in Vietnam
  • Awareness raising on chemical hazards effect to farmers health Project at Sisakate Farmers Groups in Thailand
  • Soap production from coffee grounds and tea from coffee peels at CPC-Laos
  • Hog Raising Project at PIBFA-Pandanon Integrated Balangon Farmworkers Association in Philippines
  • Provision of Carabao and Sacks of Rice for MACFAWA women Project at MACFAWA-Ma. Cecilia Farm Workers Association in Philippines
  • Turmeric Tea Production project at NAFWA-Nakalang Farm Workers Association   NAFWA-Nakalang Farm Workers Association in Philippines

Central Asia

In Central Asia, 02 entrepreneur proposals for creating an alternative means of livelihood have been selected to support the women to work independently in their respective market and supply chain. NAPP will also support these women to explore possibilities to avail funds from the local government to diversify and enhance their livelihood activities.

South Asia


  1. Implementation of Vetiver Handicrafts Project Unit by Sahyadri Organic Small Farmers Consortium- FLO ID 20381; Kerala

Two participants from the Cooperative already have prior experience in handicrafts making it easier for them to understand the cost and sustainability of this project.  Vetiver is a grass-like shot that takes about 6 months to harvest and process, the grass is dried and made into little baskets that can be used to pack organic spices.  The project is being implemented with groups of men and women, who will organize themselves for the sustainability of this mini entrepreneurship.

  1. Value Addition in Fruits and Vegetables by High range Organic Fairtrade Farmers Association-FLO ID 39059; Kerala

The cooperative farmer members have project areas covering multi-crops. Through the project, the cooperative can collect seasonal fruits and vegetables from farmers of the Idduki region and process them into raw materials thereby creating a source of additional income for the farmers.

  1. Jack Fruit Processing by Manarcadu Social Service Society (MASS) -FLO ID 19619, Karnataka as an additional source of income for farmers.

Since Jack fruit is found in abundance in Kerala, the cooperative will help to collect the jack fruit from farmers of Idukki and nearby areas for value addition and for generating additional income for their farmer members.

  1. Home-based food Products by Aravatagi Primary Agriculture Credit Co-operative Sangha Niyamit, Doori, Karnataka – FLO ID 27788

In the initial stage, the team had been running a pickling project in a very limited way.  Later they came up with preparing other homemade products which are in demand in the area.  The team also spelled out ways to sustain the program.

  1. Roti Making Project by Primary Agriculture Credit Co-operative Sangha Niyamit, Itagi, Karnataka FLO ID 2779

The cooperative came up with a project to make Rotis ( Indian bread) with Jowar, which is also a staple food in the area of North Karnataka.  These rotis are in great demand in North Karnataka for weddings and other festivities.


Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, currently facing deep financial constraints because of Covid 19, proposed projects to improve the financial status and the nutritional requirement of women and children.

  1. Self-help Home Gardening project by Stockholm Estate of Horona Plantations PLC- FLO ID 18010

A mini-income-generating plan was put forth by the estate to work with groups of women who have small plots of land near their houses and grow common vegetables found in the area. The estate would like to support them systematically in growing and creating a market for their products and to help women barter their products between themselves.

  1. Mushroom cultivation Project by Abbotsliegh Estate of Hatton Plantations PLC- FLO ID 18792.

Mushroom cultivation is seen as a profitable and productive business in many countries as it helps to convert the farmer’s hard work into profit. The Project aims at financial empowerment of the families involved.

  1. Organically grown turmeric, ginger, and passion fruits by Stassen Natural Foods (Pvt.) Ltd. (Idulgashina Bio Tea Garden)- FLO ID 1550

The gender leader of Idulgashina Bio Tea Garden proposed a project to grow passion fruit, ginger, and turmeric and to market it to their existing customers.


As a Fairtrade Producer Network, we globally recognize the overarching roles and contribution of women and youth in the agricultural sector.  We will continue to promote gender equality and support men and women in the Fairtrade Producer Organizations to play a transformative role in gender mainstreaming in the Fairtrade system.