Empowering women from grain to glass

Case study


Supporting women to play an equal role in the economy and their communities will drive the kind of inclusive prosperity that societies everywhere need to thrive – and it’s simply the right thing to do.

Our programmes have empowered more than 390,000 women with access to training and skills globally. But there's a long way to go – every value chain contains barriers to women's equal participation from ‘grain to glass’.

Understanding inequalities among barley farmers

Our global partnership with CARE International aims to address the root causes of gender inequality across our value chain through a combination of research, community programmes and advocacy.

In 2017, we worked with CARE International on an in-depth gender analysis of our barley supply chain in the Oromia region of Ethiopia – an area where our local sourcing programme has increased our network of smallholder farmers from just over 1,000 to over 6,000 in four years.

While the report found that our programmes have achieved many positive impacts in terms of market access, prices, training, and transport efficiencies, it told us too that women were not getting equal access to the skills and resources provided by the programme. It also showed that the proportion of participating female farmers had increased by just 1%.

Addressing systemic barriers

The report identified a range of systemic barriers facing women in the area that restricted their ability to join and lead farmers' groups. For example, they had restricted access to resources, including education, credit and land rights. 

These are issues that affect many value chains. Globally, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, women make up more than 40% of the agricultural labour force, but only 20% of landowners, while the World Bank reports that 150 countries have at least one law that treats women and men differently in relation to employment and entrepreneurship.

We're using our research to work with CARE International within our local sourcing programmes, exploring ways to enable equal access for women farmers and supporting them within farmer cooperatives and unions. More widely, we're looking for new ways to address systemic barriers – so we can enable women to realise their full potential.