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Panelists demand equal opportunities for women in oil palm sector

Key players involved in oil palm in Indonesia have highlighted the need for equal rights and opportunities for women and men. Panelists at a policy dialogue on gender and oil palm in Jakarta on Friday, March 3 2017 outlined the need for women to have a bigger say in decisions related to land, employment and smallholder inclusion.

oil-palm-worker

A female oil palm worker in Indonesia

The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), in collaboration with the University of Indonesia and the University of Brighton, organised a discussion bringing together multiple actors related to the oil palm sector. Advocacy organisations, certification bodies, government agencies, indigenous communities, private sector representatives, researchers and women’s rights groups discussed the challenges and opportunities that oil palm represents for women.

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“Today’s dialogue shows that there is interest across the board on improving gender equality throughout the oil palm value chain and certification process,” said Dr. Bimbika Sijapati-Basnett, Scientist and Gender Coordinator at CIFOR. “Today wasn’t just about discussing problems but also about identifying workable solutions that will have real impact on the ground.”

Ongoing research by CIFOR points to the critical roles that women play as workers, smallholders and investors. However, gender issues are not considered in policies, certification bodies and regulations in the sector.

Oil palm expansion threatens to displace local women from their land, on which they cultivate food crops. Women’s work and contributions to oil palm production are largely unrecognised, lamented CIFOR, adding that when they are, women are overrepresented in the ‘casual worker’ category, with limited entitlement to decent working conditions.

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The research is funded by the UK Department of International Development, the United States Agency for International Development, Rights and Resources Initiative, Oxfam and the CGIAR Research Programme on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

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