Working Paper

Ethical Trade in African Horticulture: Gender, Rights and Participation

Published on 1 January 2004

Codes of conduct covering employment conditions of southern producers have gained popularity over the past decade. In African horticulture employers now face a plethora of codes coming from supermarkets, importers, exporters and trade associations. Women constitute the majority of workers in African export horticulture.

However, men are often in permanent employment, whereas women tend to work in temporary and insecure jobs. This report provides an in-depth assessment of gender and ethical trade in South African fruit, Kenyan flowers and Zambian flowers and vegetables. It examines the gendered needs and rights of workers, as articulated by workers themselves, and how these could best be addressed by codes of conduct.

The research paid particular attention to vulnerable groups such as women and seasonal, casual and migrant workers, who typically face a different set of constraints and opportunities in employment.

This paper discusses the nature of employment and working conditions found in the sub-sectors, and the varying perspectives of workers and employers toward these conditions. It summarises key gender issues in employment and outlines how they relate to codes. It explores the benefits of ‘participatory social auditing’ for assessing workplace issues, especially gender issues. It describes the value of a local multi-stakeholder approach to code implementation and the extent to which stakeholders in South Africa, Kenya and Zambia have embraced the process thus far. Finally it identifies policy recommendations for best practice in code implementation.

Publication details

published by
Smith, S., Auret, D., Barrientos, S. et al
IDS Working Paper, issue 223
1 85864 833 5


About this publication

Related content

Working Paper

Effective Social Protection in Conflict: Findings from Sudan

Working Paper

Izzy Birch & 2 others

22 February 2024