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.