8 March 2021

REWE Group empowers women, promoting gender equality throughout its supply chains

Guideline defines measures to encourage social and economic participation

All over the world, women are affected disproportionately by poverty, discrimination, violence and exploitation resulting from social or patriarchal structures. For this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8, the REWE Group is sending a clear signal with the publication of its “Women in the Supply Chain” guideline. This document defines specific goals and measures aimed at protecting and promoting women in global value chains, with a focus on precarious working conditions and low wages, a lack of job security and inadequate participation in economic life.

As one of the leading trade companies in Germany and Europe, the REWE Group purchases many products and product ingredients through supply chains that can span multiple countries. Particularly in the areas of agricultural commodities and production, there is greater risk of non-compliance with labour and social standards, and it is often women who are especially affected. According to recent estimates, approximately 43% of agricultural work worldwide is performed by women. Yet in most cases women do not have their own land, and they lack access to loans and technical support. They devote roughly 90% of their earnings to feeding their families and paying for their children’s education. Women frequently find themselves in extreme poverty, especially during the periods in their lives when they are giving birth to and caring for children. Consequently, they also lack social security benefits in old age.

In 2020, the REWE Group joined the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles initiative, committing itself to focusing on strengthening the role of women, both in the company and in society at large. The Women’s Empowerment Principles are a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact, informed by international labour and human rights standards, the gender equality dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They include equal pay for work of equal value, gender-specific measures to promote women, and zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace. Through concrete projects and actions, the REWE Group has worked for years to improve women’s living and working situations, particularly in its own value chains, and to promote fair trade.

Support and training for female coffee farmers in Peru

The Fairtrade coffee cooperative Valle de Incahuasi in Peru produces REWE’s Feine Welt coffee, which is certified as fair trade and organic. By committing to purchase the goods produced by coffee farmers, the REWE Group provides the farmers with stability and enables them to plan for the future. The cooperative has 488 members, 84 of them women. Every community that supplies goods for the cooperative has a women’s committee that deals with food security, training and income-generating measures targeted specifically to women – for example, financial assistance for planting vegetable gardens, support for small businesses, and training in coffee quality control and basic business management skills. As part of a long-standing partnership, the REWE Group also offers continuing education programs for female farmers aimed at increasing women’s participation in the cooperative’s decision-making processes (Women’s School of Leadership).

Since the beginning of 2021, REWE’s engagement in Peru has expanded to include the Valle Ubiriki cooperative. The harvested land belongs exclusively to women. The REWE Group has made a multi-year commitment to purchase the coffee produced by the women who are members of the cooperative. In addition, the REWE Group is engaged in an on-site project that is designed to boost these women’s incomes, improve their living conditions, and increase the yield of their harvests. Among the planned activities are training in management and agricultural skills as well as infrastructure improvements.

Improving the situation of female cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire

As a founding member of the multi-stakeholder initiative “Sustainable Cocoa Forum,” the REWE Group is joining with other companies to support the PRO-PLANTEURS project, which is being implemented in cooperation with Germany’s federal government and the Ivorian government. Within the next few years, 30,000 cocoa farmers and their producers’ organizations are to be professionalized, with the goal of boosting incomes and improving families’ living situations.

This project, located in the eastern and south-eastern regions of Côte d’Ivoire, is intended to offer opportunities for women, specifically, to increase their incomes so that they can provide better nutrition for their families. Among other things, PRO-PLANTEURS supports women in the production, processing and marketing of agricultural products. It has also joined with Côte d’Ivoire’s national food program to train 76 women as agricultural consultants.

Addressing gender-specific violence in textile supply chains

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles was founded in 2014 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to improve social and environmental conditions in global textile production. To address the widespread problem of violence against women, as of 2021 members of the partnership have been required to assess gender-specific risks in their supply chains. As a member, the REWE Group wants to play an active role in pursuing the partnership’s goal of addressing gender-specific violence in its textile supply chains, by identifying appropriate measures to be taken (for example through its Social Capacity Building Program).

About REWE Group

The cooperatively organized REWE Group is one of the leading trade and tourism groups in Germany and Europe. In 2021, the company generated a total external turnover of 76.5 billion euros. Founded in 1927, REWE Group operates with around 380,000 employees in 21 European countries.

The sales lines include REWE, REWE CENTER and BILLA as well as BILLA PLUS and ADEG supermarkets and consumer stores, the discounter PENNY, IKI, the drugstores BIPA and the toom Baumarkt DIY stores. The company also operates convenience stores REWE To Go and the e-commerce activities REWE Lieferservice and Zooroyal. The Lekkerland Group comprises the wholesale activities of the business group in the area of on-the-go consumption.Travel and tourism under the umbrella of DER Touristik Group includes the tour operators DERTOUR, ITS, Meiers Weltreisen, Kuoni, Helvetic Tours, ITS Coop Travel, Billa Reisen, Koning Aap, Exim Tours and Fischer as well as more than 2,300 travel agencies (e.g. DERTOUR, DERPART, Kuoni, Exim, Fischer and cooperation partners), the hotel brands Sentido, Aldiana, Calimera, Cooee, and the online travel portal Prijsvrij Vakanties.

Kristina Schütz
Spokesperson REWE Group