Gender equity headlines first day of World Banana Forum

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The Gender Equity Meeting of the Third Conference of the World Banana Forum (WBF) took place on Tuesday in Geneva. Nearly 100 people gathered to share expertise about and develop proposals for future work to achieve gender equity in the industy.
The Gender Equity Task Force of the WBF has coordinated two previous meetings, in 2012 and 2015 respectively, one multistakeholder and one of civil society from all banana exporting regions. Yesterday’s meeting was the first to be a formal part of a World Banana Conference programme. 
The breadth of participation and depth of discussion reflect the significant range of work currently being undertaken by the Task Force, from developing terms of reference for OHSE risk assessment for pregnant women and nursing mothers to identifying the causal factors that create the gender pay gap. Working groups discussed five thematic areas; women’s empowerment, women’s employment, the gender pay gap, Occupational Health and Safety and sexual harassment and Gender Based Violence. 
On the opening morning of the World Banana Forum conference, three meeting delegates, representative of the multistakeholder participation, shared the gender meeting's proposals with WBF Conference delegates; Christelle Lasme (Corporate Soical Responsibility Manager, Compagnie Fruitiere), Mariangels Fortuny (Head of Unit Rural Team of the International Labour Organisation) and Iris Munguia (Coordinator of COLSIBA (the Regional Coordination of the Latin American Banana & other Agro Industrial Product Unions).

Iris Munguia, COLSIBA Co-ordinator presenting the gender proposals to the conference
During the key note address, the International Labour Organisation noted the very low levels of women’s employment in the banana industry. Banana Link research also shows very low wage levels for many women (and men). The meeting proposed that the provision of childcare, flexible working, equal opportunity to tasks and opportunities for promotion could both increase the number of women employed in the industry and bridge the gender pay gap.
The importance of women being empowered through education and training to play an active role in decision making at all stages of the value chain was clear today’ commented Jacqui Mackay, National Coordinator of Banana Link. ‘Empowerment – whether it be to report and challenge sexual harassment in the workplace or to secure living wages as members of collective bargaining teams – is vital.
Delegates to the gender equity meeting of the World Banana Forum conference