Kuala Lumpur, 21 April 2021: The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has released  its Practical Guidance on Gender Inclusion and Compliance to the 2018 RSPO Principles and Criteria (P&C) and the 2019 Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard.  Developed by the RSPO Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), in consultation with Fair & Sustainable Consulting, this Gender Guidance underscores the vital role that women play in the palm oil industry and the need to strengthen our commitment to women's rights.

“Women make essential contributions to the palm oil sector; yet they also face unique risks – from unrecognised land ownership to unequal job opportunities to a lack of protection both physical and financial,” said Prasad Vijaya Segaran Human Rights and Social Standards Senior Executive, RSPO. "In an industry that has long been male dominated, there is an urgent need to address these risks by integrating more gender-equal views and practices into the operations of palm oil producing companies which will contribute both to the wellbeing and livelihood of men, women and the companies which they work for".

The Gender Guidance serves as a practical guide to enhancing gender equality. It equips RSPO members with a manual that describes the building blocks of a gender-inclusive business, educational resources on gender-based constraints and recommendations for action. It presents case references from a wide range of stakeholders and practitioners, drawing on their collective years of experience in the sector and tackling gender-sensitive issues within the workforce.  

“This Gender Guidance marks a positive step forward towards one of RSPO’s key goals of greater gender equality within the palm oil sector,” said Julia Majail, Director of Standards Development, RSPO. “This guide will assist RSPO members to work towards closing the gender gap by raising awareness of the difficulties that women face in the industry and suggesting strategies which can assist to expand  women’s economic opportunities.”

"This Gender Guidance supports RSPO members, specifically palm oil producers and independent smallholders, to implement the gender-related requirements of the RSPO standards. The P&C 2018 and ISH 2019 are not only a response to respecting human rights, promoting sustainable livelihoods and reducing poverty but also a means to improve human resource efficiency, productivity and profitability", said Lim Sian Choo, Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Bumitama Agri Ltd., also a member of the RSPO Gender Sub Group.

Download the full guide on the RSPO website here


About Fair and Sustainable Consulting: 

Fair & Sustainable Consulting (F&S) is a consultancy firm and social enterprise. Our mission is to empower people in developing countries to improve their livelihoods and increase their income. F&S specializes in value chain development, especially in applying the ‘Market Systems Development’ approach. F&S supports the development of value chains that are inclusive for small scale producers (men and women) that promote sustainable use of resources and a fair distribution of benefits. Fair & Sustainable believes that it is important to address the gender aspects of value chain development. Not only because we believe in the importance of gender equality as a social development goal, but also because gender inequality within the value chain leads to inefficiencies and suboptimal utilization of the available resources and potential outputs for all actors in the value chain. Over the last 10 years, we have developed tools and methodologies to assess gender in value chains and to train professionals on gender in value chains. We have given practical coaching-based support concerning gender in value chains to practitioners working in agricultural programs in many countries worldwide. We have assisted international organizations and development programs, including standard-setting organizations in developing gender policies and guidelines.

About RSPO:

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. RSPO is a not-for-profit, international, membership organisation that unites stakeholders from the different sectors of the palm oil industry including oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs, and social or developmental NGOs.

This multi-stakeholder representation is mirrored in the governance structure of RSPO such that seats in the Board of Governors, Steering Committees and Working Groups are fairly allocated to each sector. In this way, RSPO lives out the philosophy of the "roundtable" by giving equal rights to each stakeholder group, facilitating traditionally adversarial stakeholders in working together to reach decisions by consensus, and achieving RSPO’s shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.

The seat of the association is in Zurich, Switzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with satellite offices in Jakarta (ID), London (UK), Zoetermeer (NL), Beijing (CN) and Bogotá (CO).


For further information, kindly contact: 

Fay Richards

Acting Head of Marketing & Communications

[email protected]




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