To be socially responsible, land-related investments must ensure that women and men are not harmed, are meaningfully consulted and give consent where their rights are affected, are fairly compensated for lost land and resource rights, and benefit equitably from the investment. Importantly, socially responsible investments should not contribute to “gender gaps” by systematically disenfranchising women or men. Realizing corporate commitments to socially responsible investments requires an understanding of and affirmative steps to address gender differences, yet companies may view addressing women’s issues as a step beyond their core commitments on land. Understanding the gender dimensions of their commitments to socially responsible land-based investments is a necessary first step for many investors to make good on their commitments.
To date, many leading agribusiness companies, namely Cargill, Illovo Sugar, Nestle, PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Company, and Unilever, have made statements or commitments regarding land. This paper will analyze these companies’ public statements, commitments, and policies on land from a gender perspective in order to demonstrate what gender-sensitive socially responsible investments carried out under these commitments would entail, and to shed light on the challenges and pragmatic implications that such commitments present.
This paper will ‘unpack’ these companies’ commitments to socially responsible investments to analyze the challenges and concrete steps that are needed to realize a “zero-tolerance” commitment for both men and women affected by land-related investments in order to ensure that: women are equal beneficiaries of investments in land; economic and social practices that disadvantage women are not further entrenched by investments; and women are not worse off as a result of such investments.
Originally Published in March 2016 for the annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty