Gender Transformative & Responsible Business Investment in South East Asia (GRAISEA)
Despite some countries reaching middle-income status, poverty persists in Asia because of high social and environmental vulnerability.
The distribution of economic growth remains disparate, as massive concentration of economic resources remain in the hands of fewer people. This presents a real threat to inclusive political and economic systems, and exacerbates other forms of inequalities between women and men.
Aside from this, around 88 per cent (3 million) of land owners are men, and only 12 per cent are women. Because more than 80 per cent of the world’s 500 million small farms (less than 2 hectares) are in Asia and the Pacific region, smallholder farmers from marginal and sub-marginal farm households that own and/or cultivate less than 2 hectares of land – not to mention their limited access to land, capital, skills, and labour – need ample support, to maximize their production and increase their income.
Fundamentally, the GRAISEA Programme aims to overcome barriers to development through responsible, gender transformative value chains and private sector investments. GRAISEA targets smallholder farmers and workers – especially women – in the formal and informal parts of the supply chain of key commodities.
Building on Oxfam’s pilots in selected commodities, GRAISEA utilises a multi-stakeholder approach, with Oxfam acting as a convenor, to bring together the diverse stakeholders involved in selected commodity value chains to achieve its desired results.
As a regional programme, GRAISEA works in seven countries recognizing the Asian context, which needs a more robust regional element due to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community, and the rise of Asian multinational companies with regional footprints, among others.
GRAISEA's work in Asia
Easing the Plight of Banana Farmers in the Philippines
As the second largest producer of bananas in the world, the Philippines has become a major player in the banana exporting industry. However, hundreds of banana farmers in the country face contract issues that reduce their incomes and increase their vulnerabilities to different kinds of risks, such as climate variability and disasters. To improve the situation of these banana farmers, GRAISEA, through its partner IDEALS, has conducted legal clinics and financial management seminars. Together, we facilitated engagements with the government, banana companies, and other stakeholders. We also implemented gender-based training to encourage more women participation in the industry.
Promoting Sustainable Fishing in Thailand
In Thailand, GRAISEA works with local partners to improve the livelihoods of its fisherfolk communities. The programme aims to promote sustainable fishing practices that prevent overfishing and protect the environment. To further create impact, the GRAISEA programme also supports a women-led social enterprise called Fisherfolk, that buys fish directly from local fishing communities to promote fair pricing.
With Oxfam in Thailand, Fisherfolk has established the Blue Brand, a set of standards that guarantees customers safe and responsibly sourced food, while sharing the profits with the fisherfolk. Likewise, GRAISEA helps women enhance their business skills and product expertise.
Paving the way towards an environmentally sustainable aquaculture sector in Indonesia
Indonesia is the world’s 4th largest producer of aquaculture prawns. Because of its economic importance, GRAISEA ensures that the aquaculture sector in the country is environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. The GRAISEA Programme partners, together with Oxfam and WWF-Indonesia, help companies and local prawn farmers to obtain Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification. We actively involve women in the process, in recognition of the key roles they play in the shrimp value chain. Local prawn farmers also benefit from the ASC programme, as routine trainings are held to improve the quality of prawn farms. Through this programme, prawn farmers have been able to produce prawns that are healthier and larger, leading them to offer a premium commodity, and earning them a higher income.
Promoting responsible business practice in Cambodia
Cambodia has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years. Half of its workforce is employed in the agricultural sector, and most of these workers are women. However, responsible business practices, including those focusing on gender, are not widespread, and the country’s regulatory framework is weak. To address this, the GRAISEA Programme – together with Oxfam in Cambodia and a variety of companies and civil society organizations – set up the CSR Platform Cambodia in order to facilitate the sharing of resources and best practices, that can help businesses become more socially responsible.