Evaluation of human rights impact of Bonsucro in India recommends addressing gender inequality & strengthening access to remedy

Author: Business & Human Rights Clinic, Columbia University, Published on: 4 February 2020

Bonsucro is a multi-stakeholder initiative (MSI)... that seeks “to promote sustainable sugarcane production, processing, and trade around the world” through its certification scheme and other initiatives... The growing and harvesting of sugarcane carries a legacy for serious human rights abuses... [including] child labor and bonded labor... [and] harmful working conditions, including inadequate access to drinking water and sanitation facilities... [W]omen in this sector are severely affected by substandard wages and by assault and abuse.

[W]e were tasked to evaluate the human rights impact of the Bonsucro Production Standard... At the mill level, we found that certification had minimal impact... In identifying farmers for certification under the Smallholder Standard, mills target “progressive” farmers... rewarding good behavior, rather than transforming the sector in line with its mission as a platform for change... Mills do not select farmers for certification who do not have the requisite documentation to prove land ownership. This may inadvertently replicate... gender inequities... Gender considerations are not adequately reflected in the Smallholder or Production Standards.

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