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The Chain: Indonesian Palm Oil Companies and Gender Equality

April 22, 2016

Indonesian Palm Oil Companies and Gender Equality

Chain Reaction Research partner Climate Advisers surveyed the Board of Director membership of the 21 Indonesian companies who comprise the Indonesian Agriculture Index (JAKAGRI) and found that women comprise 5% of these Boards. Fewer than 8 women serve on these Boards of Directors that dramatically impact Indonesian agricultural decision-making. According to the International Labour Organization’s 2014-2015 Indonesian labor market analysis, 19 million women work in the Indonesian Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sector, fully 50% of the labor force.

The 21 publicly traded companies in the JAKAGRI are some of Indonesia’s leading and most recognizable global brands – Eagle High Plantations, Astra Agro Lestari, and others. The sector supplies 1/6th of Indonesia’s GDP.

An analysis by the Green Commodities Programme (GCP) shows that by providing these Indonesian women the same access to financial and technical knowledge as men, these women could increase yields on agriculture plantations by 20-30%. This comes as the global management consultancy McKinsey & Company finds that “Indonesia needs to raise productivity per farmer by 60 percent just to meet domestic demand.” 

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) explored the social impacts of commodity agriculture in Indonesia, and found that Indonesian women who work in the agriculture sector are the “treasurers of household funds” and often share or lead in financial responsibility for the household. They lead in making long-term financial, investment, and capital budgeting decisions.

The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery Sector is the top employer of women in the country, with 19 million women talking part – one in eight Indonesians. Eliminating barriers to women’s full participation could grow Indonesia’s economy, expand long-term capital formation, and improve palm oil plantation efficiency while decreasing deforestation and forest degradation risks.

The vital leadership role of women in sustainable economic development has long been recognized as essential to robust economic development. The 1995 Beijing Declaration from the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women and the 1992 Rio Declaration recognized that empowering women is essential to sustainable economic development. Providing women in the agriculture sector with the same access as men to financial, legal, and technical resources can support a sustainable future for Indonesia – from the smallholder plot in the kampong to senior management roles in the board room.


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