Gender equality is a basic human right, and empowering women is imperative to achieving a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Gender equality can also have huge socio-economic benefits through contributing to economies and increasing productivity. However, gender inequality persists around the world.
Women are less likely to be employed than men; the labour force participation rate for women ages 25-54 is 63% compared to 94% for men in the same age group. Almost 40% of employed women do not have social protection such as access to pensions and unemployment and maternity benefits, and women earn an average of 77% of what men earn. A large cause of reduced employment opportunities and unequal pay is that on average, women spend around 2.5x more time on unpaid care and domestic work. This unpaid work goes unnoticed, yet if assigned a monetary value is estimated to constitute between 10 – 39% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Unpaid work responsibilities mean women have less time and opportunity to access work, resulting in unemployment or part time hours with less income.
How is FSC working toward gender equality?
FSC defines gender equality as “women and men having equal conditions for realising their full human rights and for contributing to, and benefiting from, economic, social, cultural and political development.” We are determined to ensure that men and women have equal rights and opportunities in FSC-certified companies. Our standards require:
- equality in employment, training, awarding of contracts, processes of engagement, and management activities,
- equal pay for equal work,
- direct payment through a mutually agreed method to ensure they safely receive and retain their wages,
- job opportunities are open to both women and men under the same conditions, and women are encouraged to participate actively in all levels of employment,
- maternity leave is no less than a six-week period after childbirth, and paternity leave is available with no penalty for taking it,
- meetings, management committees and decision-making forums are organised to include both women and men, and to facilitate the active participation of both,
- confidential and effective mechanisms exist for reporting and eliminating cases of sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender, marital status, parenthood, or sexual orientation.
Stories from the women of FSC-certified companies
In the village of Bambidie in Gabon, there is a day care available for small children. This gives the women in the community the opportunity to work and is a great help to women raising children alone. Eudoxie works in the local FSC-certified workshop and believes it has improved the lives of her and her family, she says: “I’m very happy I took this opportunity to come work in the forest instead. Our housing is in a very good condition. We have clean water and I really like my job. The school and healthcare are important benefits too.” She works mostly alongside men, but this isn’t an obstacle for her: “we African women are strong. We adapt to our situations and we have a lot to say. At my job I have as much to say as the men, and we like to joke and have fun too.”
Women from the Callería community of Indigenous Shipibo-Conibos in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest create beautiful textiles. Their woven, patterned textiles are coloured with dye made from bark and plants from their FSC-certified forest, and made into bedding, tablecloths and textile lamps. In Indigenous forest communities like this, women often don’t have the opportunity to earn money due to their household and childcare commitments. But this tradition is changing, and an initiative like this one empowers women.
When thinking of a forester, your first picture might be of a man. But FSC is proud to support female foresters around the world.
Nina and Jenny believe in active management of their forest which they inherited from their father. They aim to producing high quality timber whilst simultaneously taking care of the forest’s biodiversity. They are passionate about managing their forest sustainably for the benefit of future generations.
Marjo Maedell took over a 100-hectare forest outside Helsinki in Finland. She studied forest sciences at university, and now enjoys the challenge of managing the forest in new ways and prioritising conservation. Marjo believes that FSC certification will be a market demand in the future.
Deborah Angelo owns a popular hotel chain in Mexico and fills her hotels with products purchased from the local Mayan communities, including beds, desks, chairs and decorations, all made using wood from FSC-certified forests. Deborah and her team have also collaborated with five Mayan communities to open a boutique in one of her hotels, which allows the communities to sell their products to hotel guests.
“To me it is a business, and they are also good products and I can support an important cause,” she says. Deborah’s work demonstrates how businesses can play a crucial role in the supply chain and support community-owned sustainable businesses.
For more information about FSC and gender equality, click here.