Edited by Laura T. Raynolds and Elizabeth A. Bennett
Chapter 23: Fair trade and women’s empowerment
Gender equality and women’s empowerment are considered core development objectives in their own right, as part of a just and equitable society grounded in respect for human rights. They are also recognized as instrumental for achieving other development objectives, including economic growth and food security, improved health and an end to the intergenerational transmission of poverty – the so-called smart economics argument advanced by the World Bank (World Bank 2006 and 2011). Formal commitment of the international community to gender equality dates back to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women which came into force in 1981, reinforced by the ‘Platform for Action' adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995), which required the UN and its signatory states to mainstream gender issues across all policy processes. The UN's inclusion of the goal to ‘promote gender equality and empower women’ as one of its eight Millennium Development Goals in 2000 has since galvanized attention and, importantly, directed resources towards gender-focused interventions and policy implementation. The nature and implications of gender inequality in agriculture has received particular attention in recent years. An estimated 70 per cent of the world’s very poor live in rural areas and the majority are dependent on agriculture-based livelihoods (IFAD 2010). Improved productivity and participation in commercialized agriculture are seen as key drivers of poverty reduction.
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