The research policy study examines the role of human rights and environmental due diligence legislation in protecting women migrant workers in global food supply chains. It considers in detail a recent proposal by the European Parliament for a European Directive on Corporate Due Diligence and Corporate Accountability.

The agri-food sector is characterised by significant upstream market concentrations and asymmetric power relations that translate into unfair business practices and unsustainable supply chain management. The adverse human rights impacts on women migrant workers particularly in the lower tiers of the food supply chain – precarious employment and excessive working hours, coupled with undeclared and unpaid/underpaid work – are severe. These adverse impacts are compounded by barriers to effective remedies due to material constraints (low income), the (legal) dependency of migrant workers on their employers, and the invisibilised and informal character of domestic and care work carried out by women.

Women migrant workers are exposed to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that prevent them from enjoying their human right to food and other internationally protected human and labour rights. Global food supply chains can reinforce women’s inferior position in local labour markets and reproduce patriarchal relations at the factory floor, exposing them to hightened risks of gender-specific harms and sexual violence. Women migrant workers suffer disproportionately from rural poverty and conflicts, often linked to agricultural-induced environmental degradation, deforestation and the impacts of climate change; work hazards due to the exposure to pesticides and unsafe working conditions in food packing and processing facilities; labour exploitation, discrimination and social exclusion; and poor housing conditions and insufficient access to healthcare and social protection. Read more here.

This Research Policy Study was commissioned by Oxfam Germany and Action Aid France in the framework of the EU DEAR Project ‘Our Food. Our Future’.

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