Voluntary Sustainability Standards and Gender Equality in Global Value Chains

Research
Date period
26 November 2018

Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) have proliferated over the last two decades and increasingly shape global value chains, coordinated by lead firms across international borders. This paper analyses how voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) can be used to promote gender equality through international trade. Although VSS adoption has had a positive impact on women in some contexts, these standards interact with deeply rooted social norms that prevent women from fully participating in economic life. The paper finds that VSS have typically failed to address structural issues which underpin gender inequalities and puts forward a number of policy recommendations based on this assessment.