Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Gender Equality in Agriculture

This guide explains how voluntary sustainable standards (VSSs) can be used as a tool to meet the SDGs and targets related to gender equality and women’s empowerment in agriculture.

The publication Leveraging Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Agriculture: A Guide for Development Organizations Based on the Sustainable Development Goals was launched by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in March 2019.

It explains how voluntary sustainable standards (VSSs) can be used as a tool to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as its associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they can contribute indirectly to household food security and gender equality in food access. 

Specifically, the report analyses how VSSs can be leveraged to make positive contributions to gender equality and how they can promote gender equality depending on certain conditions; but the report also shows how VSSs could exacerbate gender inequalities if they are not applied with sensitivity to local gender dynamics. 

VSSs in agriculture are private initiatives that aim to promote the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability by requiring that farmers meet certain minimum performance requirements in each of these areas and by providing guidance for improvement. They usually entail a certification process for smallholder farmers or large farms with hired labour by an independent body. To date, there are 148 standards in the agriculture sector.

The findings in this guidebook are based on an analysis of the content and application of five key VSS in agriculture:
Common Code for the Coffee Community (4Cs)
Fairtrade International
International Federation for Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
Rainforest Alliance (Sustainable Agriculture Standard)
UTZ Certified

(IISD/ile)

Read more and download the report Leveraging Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Agriculture: A Guide for Development Organizations Based on the Sustainable Development Goals at IISD website:
iisd.org/library/leveraging-voluntary-sustainability-standards-gender-equality-and-womens-empowerment)