Browse by Theme: Value Chains

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is upon us. Too much to be excited about, right? Or, like me, you may still be wrapping your head around what this revolution means...

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Since starting an internship at CARE International UK in the Policy and Advocacy team, I’ve had the chance to support research on women’s economic empowerment programmes, with a specific focus on the ready-made garment sector in South East Asia. CARE’s broader role in training value chain workers in partnership with companies like Mondelez, establishing savings groups with women, and committing to a Dignified Work agenda, is crucial to tackling widespread injustice in global value chains across all industries. Researching ready-made garment value chains specifically has led me to re-evaluate some of my own shopping habits, and shown me that change has to come from consumers.

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Women are very important stakeholders for the whole cocoa industry – not just as customers and consumers, but also because of their roles as cocoa producers. Although cocoa is seen as a “male crop” in most of the producing countries, women have a key role in activities that are critical for the volume and quality of the production. Nevertheless, the “invisibility” of women has serious consequences for their access to technical training and productive resources in general, which is unjust and also represents a huge inefficiency in business terms.

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I recently visited Ghana with a team of Mondelēz International Ambassadors to understand the Cocoa Life value chain from seeds to farming to trading and processing. It was great to see an innovative, inclusive business model in action, driving sustainability for the world’s largest snacking company AND improving the livelihoods of poor cocoa farmers. During the visit I saw for myself how a vibrant value chain is stronger than the sum of its partners; and why it’s important for businesses to address gender inequality and financial exclusion. I also learnt a lot about chocolate!

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Growing Together, a new report launched on 29 September by CARE, SABMiller, the Harvard Kennedy Corporate Responsibility Initiative and Business Fights Poverty, sets out why businesses should take a much more proactive and collaborative approach to supporting the micro-enterprises in their value chains, and provides practical support to doing so.

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The current UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment is highlighting the major attention being paid by governments, the development community and others to the importance of women’s economic empowerment to tackling poverty and ensuring women achieve the target of gender equality which the world has agreed to as Sustainable Development Goal 5.

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Global value chains can be a powerful lever for empowering women, but companies must identify where women work, must develop a clear gender strategy and must articulate the business case for supporting women.

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