Financial institutions

Fair Finance Asia study finds gender equality ignored by financial institutions allowing large Asian agricultural conglomerates that mainly employ women as informal workers

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, March 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Between 2016 and 2020, 125 of the largest agribusinesses operating in ASEAN, India, Japanand Pakistan has received $22.6 billion in the lending and underwriting services of financial institutions active in Asia and around the world. Specifically, the new Fair Finance Asia (FFA) study assessed the policies of 54ffinancial companies actively providing credit and underwriting services to these companies, and the results clearly show weak enforcement or a general lack of policies on gender equality, human rights, labor rights, transparency and accountability.

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The negligence of financial institutions, coupled with inadequate government regulation and enforcement, has led to the continued failure of Asian agribusinesses to uphold women’s rights and address labor and human rights abuses. man who continue to afflict one of the from Asia most important sector. These types of violations widen the inequality gap by plunging workers, smallholder farmers and local communities, especially women, into poverty.

The FFA report calls on financial institutions to commit to respecting internationally recognized human rights conventions, adopting a gender-sensitive approach to human rights due diligence and incorporate these principles into their policies. The report also strongly recommends that the sustainable finance taxonomies being developed across Asia support for compliance with human and labor rights standards. Enforcement mechanisms must also be in place to ensure that relevant policies or standards being developed, such as the ASEAN RAI Guidelines, are effectively adopted. The RAI guidelines are a positive step to encourage ASEAN member states, businesses and investors to implement responsible business practices in the region. However, this will only be possible with better collaboration between countries and by enabling a resilient and robust civil society movement across the region to independently monitor the progress of relevant commitments and initiatives.

Srishty Anand, Head, Fair Finance India: India, the affirmation of women as farmers is key to recognizing the work they do, awareness of the gender implications of laws and practices, and their often undervalued contribution as agricultural workers in the rural economy. According to the report, while Indian banks’ scores remain low for gender equality, labor rights and human rights, corporate or investor responsibility as imagined in the conceptualization of the UNGP will remain a weak force in changing these social realities of gender inclusion.

Patricia Selda, Manager, Fair Finance Philippines: Agribusinesses need to consider social aspects, such as the inclusion of women, given that women make up almost half of the agricultural workforce in developing countries. Women have been involved in the entire agricultural value chain, from production to post-harvest activities. However, recognition of women’s contribution to agriculture has often been under-represented and/or under-reported, such as in cases where only male household members are recognized as agricultural workers.

Bernadette Victoire, Program Manager, FFA: It is no coincidence that the launch of this report coincides with International Women’s Day. Thanks to this joint study between FFA and Gender Transformative and Responsible Agribusiness Investments in South East Asia (GRAISEA), we echo our call for an urgent abandonment of socially harmful financing practices in the food and agriculture sector by Asia, and draw attention to the plight of women and workers who bear the brunt of their negative impacts across value chains. Lack of awareness of the issues and impacts on the ground of harmful business and finance can no longer be used as an excuse to remain complicit in violations, we must see greater commitment and action in adoption and implementation politics.

To read the report’s full findings and recommendations, please visit: https://bit.ly/3tzeFGc.

For more information please contact:
Shreya Kaushik
Research and Advocacy Advisor
Fair Finance Asia
Email: [email protected]

About FFA: Fair Finance Asia is a regional network of civil society organizations (CSOs) committed to ensuring that financial institutions respect and uphold the rights and social and environmental well-being of local communities. Eight countries in the region are part of the FFA network: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, The Philippines, Thailandand Vietnam.

For more information on FFA, visit www.fairfinanceasia.org

Follow us on Twitter @FairFinanceAsia

SOURCE Fair Finance Asia