November 12, 2020

Gender justice in global supply chains

Global Policy Forum Europe and Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung

Demands on policy-makers and business

This position paper is part of a cooperative project between the Global Policy Forum Europe and the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung.

This position paper was prepared by:
Jana Borkenhagen, Gisela Burckhardt, Marek Burmeister, Heike Drillisch, Gertrud Falk, Sepide Freitag, Gabriele Köhler, Maren Leifker, Benjamin Luig, Mara Mürlebach, Carsta Neuenroth, Franziska Pflüger, Christa Randzio-Plath, Karolin Seitz

Editor: Karolin Seitz

Editorial collaboration: Vera Pokorny and Monika Hoegen

Translation: Kate Davison and Marc Hiatt for Gegensatz Translation Collective

Layout: Peer Neumann

As from: Juli 2020

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the negative effects of global economic activity. People of other gender identities or sexual orientations are similarly discriminated against. However, this paper focuses on women and girls because of their strong presence in numerous supply chains. They experience economic human rights violations in different ways to men. The reasons for this range from discriminatory socio-economic structures and practices to patriarchal and class-based social and cultural norms.

The global COVID-19 crisis and its effects reinforce existing gender inequalities in the economy and make them even more visible. Politics, business and civil society have so far paid too little attention to the special role of women and girls in their initiatives and political debates with a view to preventing economy-related human rights violations. One exception is the guide on the Gender Dimensions of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights published in June 2019 by the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

In order to achieve equality between women and men in all areas of life worldwide, future political measures, whether at international, European or national level, should urgently address structural discrimination against women throughout global supply chains. This also applies to the supply chain law that the governing coalition in Germany has agreed to implement. A non-discriminatory supply chain law is the first step. It requires a perspective that is fundamentally geared towards reducing discrimination based on gender.

States and companies should enact measures that go beyond a “do no harm” approach, i.e. that go beyond the prevention and mitigation of women’s rights violations in global supply chains. They should enact measures that promote fundamental transformation for the actual attainment of women’s rights.