Ireland-based produce company Fyffes has marked International Women’s Day by launching its Global Gender Equality Program in Honduras, which it describes as one of the most challenging places in the world to be a woman.
The company said the program will begin on two of its melon farms in Honduras as well as its pineapple farm in Costa Rica.
The program's aim is to identify challenges to equality faced by women both in the workplace and in their communities. The issues are likely to vary from region to region given the culture and local context, it said, noting that its interventions would be adapted accordingly.
To date, the program has conducted independent survey interviews with 90 female and 113 male workers, as well as seven managers in Honduras. In Costa Rica, the program has undertaken interviews with 21 women, 32 men and 7 managers.
The surveys’ findings have revealed that most workers have a clear understanding of what is not acceptable behavior at work, including sexual harassment, harsh discipline or violence.
However, it said there is less awareness of the company policies regarding these behaviors and many workers said they would be reticent to challenge these behaviors or make formal complaints. For example, two-thirds of female workers interviewed in Costa Rica and 40% of female workers in Honduras said they felt others would disapprove if they made a sexual harassment claim at work.
To address these issues, Fyffes says it has undertaken to better communicate its policies on these behaviors. The program is also establishing gender committees, comprised of both men and women, who will receive training on various gender-related issues such as gender-based violence, maternal health, family planning, sexual harassment, as well as communication and confidence building.
The role of the committee members is to act as change agents in their workplace and their communities and give workers the confidence to tackle inappropriate workplace behavior. The committees will also inform Fyffes ongoing financial investment to tackle these issues.
“I am pleased to be officially launching Fyffes Gender Equality Program on International Women’s Day," said Julie Cournoyer, Fyffes global director of sustainability.
"I would like to thank our partners for supporting what I believe is a very relevant project; focusing on improving conditions for women both on our farms as well as at home. Fyffes will learn from Costa Rica and Honduras as we continue to implement the Program across all Fyffes operations globally by 2021."
The program is being partially funded by the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative and conducted in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), la Alianza Empresarial para el Desarrollo (AED) in Costa Rica and Fundación Hondureña de Responsibilidad Social Empresarial (FUNDAHRSE) in Honduras.