Global Resources

A Gendered Value Chain Approach To Codes of Conduct in African Horticulture

Author: S. Barrientos, S. Dolan, A. Tallontire
Publication Date: Sep 2003
Codes of conduct designed to regulate the employment conditions of Southern producers exporting to European markets were rapidly adopted throughout the 1990s - especially in the horticulture sector linking European supermarkets with export firms in Africa. The majority of employment in this sector is informal (i.e., temporary, seasonal, casual, migrant), of which a significant proportion is female. But how gender sensitive are these codes of conduct? Are they able to address the specific problems linked to informal and feminized employment within the sector? This paper explores the gender sensitivity of these codes from an analytical perspective that combines global value chain and gendered economy approaches. Through an analysis of these two approaches, it develops a "gender pyramid," which provides a framework for mapping and assessing the gender content of codes of conduct. The pyramid is applied to codes that cover employment conditions in three commodity groups and countries exporting to European markets: South African fruit, Kenyan flowers and Zambian vegetables and flowers. It concludes that the gender sensitivity of codes needs to be greatly enhanced if they are to adequately address employment conditions relevant to informal and especially women workers.