8 March 2021

Guideline on women in the supply chain

Women make up a major portion of the workforce on coffee, palm oil and cotton plantations, and they are disproportionately affected by poverty, uncertainty, discrimination, violence and exploitation. The REWE Group wants to improve this situation by strengthening women’s rights in supply chains and supporting their independence and economic participation.


Which particular effects of human rights violations are women most subjected to? In which sectors and countries relevant to the REWE Group are the risks for women especially high? The REWE Group conducted a risk analysis in 2020 to answer these very questions. The result: Women participate in all supply chains for private label products from REWE, PENNY, BILLA, MERKUR, BIPA, ADEG and toom Baumarkt, and they are at risk of human rights abuses, due to low wages, employment without a contract or sexual harassment, among other factors. Typically, men are in charge of income, and women are often denied the right to own land, so women often do not have the opportunity to participate in economic life.

Our goals

The REWE Group has set three objectives to help combat the risks facing women in the supply chain: initiate and maintain a dialogue with stakeholders about the rights and needs of women, communicate the Group’s requirements in this regard and provide the relevant employees with training. The Social Capacity Building Program addresses the risks women face and their specific needs. Additionally, the REWE Group wants to strengthen women’s rights and promote their economic independence and participation through targeted projects.

Our measures

As a member of the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles initiative, the REWE Group commits itself to focusing on strengthening the role of women, both in the company and in society at large. These goals are supported by measures such as buying raw materials certified by standards like Fairtrade that prohibit discrimination and require the protection of women, or by participating in multi-stakeholder initiatives aimed at protecting women’s rights and supporting their independence. For example, women in the Valle de Incahuasi, a Peruvian Fairtrade coffee cooperative, are taught basic business management skills, and Fairtrade’s involvement in the cut-flower industry in East Africa helps ensure that workers are paid fairly.