Gender equity in the banana industry - a global women's strategy meeting

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Women representatives directly involved in banana production and from civil society, including members and partners of EUROBAN, recently met in Bonn, Germany to share experiences of the challenges facing women in the industry and initiatives to empower women to improve their conditions. 
The goal of the meeting was to develop collective strategies to achieve gender equity in banana export production, with the specific objectives of: 
  • • Sharing experiences between women directly involved in banana export production
  • • Ensuring that the experiences of women workers and small holders, and the gendered impacts of the challenges faced by the industry, are fully understood and considered by the World Banana Forum (WBF) in all of its areas of work; and 
  • • Promoting active participation of, and leadership by, women in the industry. 
Organised by the Gender Working Group of the World Banana Forum, hosted by Fairtrade International and with funding by Fairtrade Germany, women from nine banana producing countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America participated in the two day meeting. Areas of discussion included the gender pay gap in the industry; the need for women to be able to access education and workplace training; Occupational Health & Safety and gender based violence in the workplace.

Photo: women participated in group discussions as part of the meeting
The meeting concluded with a range of strong recommendations for ongoing gender strategy to increase and improve women's engagement in banana export production within the World Banana Forum. Preparations were also kick-started for the next women's meeting which will bring together representatives from all stakeholders - including supermarkets and fruit companies - the day before the Global Conference of the World Banana Forum in 2016. 
A member of the coordinating team, Jacqui Mackay of Banana Link, said:
"It was incredible to bring so many women together and for those from banana producing countries to know that not only do they all face similar challenges but that they can work to address these in solidarity with their sisters from all over their world. I am proud to have the opportunity to be working with these courageous and inspiring women who are striving to improve the lives of the thousands of women banana workers and farmers."

Photo: simultaneous interpretation allowed for tri-lingual plenary sessions