Ethiopian Horticulture Producer and Exporters Association

The Empowering the Source programme has invested in gender interventions on Ethiopian flower farms to strengthen workplace systems as well as building capacities and giving workers support on various aspects such as maternity leave and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) grievance mechanisms. The major changes seen in the implementation of this programme aligns with Step 3: Address Adverse Impacts of the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence process.

Ethiopian Horticulture Producer and Exporters Association (EHPEA) works in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility’s (BSR) HerProject, with funding from IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative and the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI) to implement the Empowering the Source programme. One of the programme’s main focuses is addressing sexual harassment and GBV at the farms and surroundings. Yet the implementation of this programme shows how it addresses a number of adverse impacts to promote gender equality.

Actions undertaken

The gender-specific steps taken by the programme include:

  • Establishing gender committees to investigate cases, mainly GBV related.
  • Strengthening the grievance mechanisms at farms.
  • Support for gender committees and improved mechanisms by leadership being actively communicated across the farms.
  • Awareness raising and training around gender-specific issues and rights such as sexual harassment and women workers’ rights.
  • Clear HR policy and enforcement by farm.
  • Zero-tolerance of adverse behaviour which results in serious punishments.
  • Corporate leadership promoting gender equality and respecting workers’ rights.

“The implementation of this programme shows how it addresses a number of adverse impacts to promote gender equality.”


Research conducted by Fair & Sustainable Consulting found as a result of this programme’s implementation:

  • Better labour conditions affecting women in particular, such as:
  • Allocation of breastfeeding time
  • Maternity leave.
  • Health and safety affecting women in particular:
  • Reduction of reported GBV cases. The initial rise of reported cases was probably related to the increased self-confidence. Aggregated data of 4 farms show the number of GBV cases decreased by 32% in 2017 compared to 2015.
  • Access to better health care.
  • Improved gender relations and women-friendly culture with better relationships between employees and management.
  • Women hold more status and leadership positions, including increased confidence and skills:
  • Increased status in community.
  • Access to income and employment, and women in management positions increased from 26,3% to 36,7% (2013-2017).

“In order to ensure profitability and productivity you have to erase the challenges which are encountered by your employees. So, it’s not only a sustainability issue but it is also a business case.”

Tewodros Zewdie, Executive Director of EHPEA.

Application to other enterprises

The Empowering the Source programme committed to addressing gender inequality at many different levels across enterprises and farms. The success of the programme can also be attributed to its alignment with the first three steps of the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence process but mainly Step 3. Women’s vital role in these Ethiopian flower farms was recognised and the adverse impacts they face were then mitigated. Other enterprises should strive to introduce programmes like this to address multiple gender-specific issues at multiple levels in order to ensure that gender equality is both acknowledged and supported from the enterprises’ leadership all the way to the workers on the farms or factories.