Horticulture in Rwanda
The Rwandan horticulture sector is relatively small compared to the other East African countries, but growing. In 2018 the total export was 25 million US dollar. The government is keen to expand the sector, currently controlling 70% of the horticulture industry.
Laws and regulations
The legal and policy environment for regulating the horticulture sector in Rwanda is fast developing. The constitution of Rwanda recognizes the rights of individuals and workers including the freedom of association, free choice of employment, the right to join a trade union and the right to strike. Rwanda has also ratified up to 28 ILO Conventions. The Labor Law establishes fundamental rights at work, regulates various aspects of employment, general working conditions, salaried formal sector workers, leaves, occupational safety and health, organization of workers and employers, collective agreements and labor disputes.
Challenges for workers
There exists a number of labor-based challenges in the sector. There is no up to date minimum wage regulation, with the consequence that growers are paying very low and unregulated wages – mostly between RFW 700 – 1,000 per day (US$ 0.90-1.27). The seasonal nature of employment denies the majority of workers key employment benefits, such as: paid leave, social protection and trade union membership. In this sector, women occupy subordinate positions in the workplace hierarchy, in spite of their large numbers.
Although Rwanda ranks number 9 at the Global Gender Gap Index 2020, gender equality and women’s empowerment constraints are part of the concerns raised by horticulture firms and cooperatives in Rwanda. There is a high number of GBV cases at the workplace, which include sexual aggressive language and sextortion, but not a lot of reporting is done due to fear of consequences, stigma and lack of understanding. Furthermore, gender imparity is linked to cultural norms, social roles and expectations, economic factors, and socio-economic environments that disadvantage women in Rwanda, including their marginalization in the public sphere. Specifically, horticulture firms studied (2016 Hivos Baseline Survey) were found to have no relevant policies or programs that address gender inequalities, although the firms indicated they avoid gender bias in their conditions of service.
The Women@Work Campaign has established partnerships with three organizations in Rwanda:
Through a non-confrontational strategy, including collecting evidence-based material they open up the space for dialogue with the government. The trade union mainly focuses on sensitizing workers on their rights; Rwanda Women’s Network on enhancing the leadership capacities of women workers; and Haguruka engages with the government on labor and policy changes.
- Through the Women@Work Campaign, two gender committees have been established at two flower farms. Through training done by the partners, these committees have engaged an internal consultant to develop gender-sensitive policies and mechanisms.
- Because of the Women Leadership training, women workers now report higher levels of confidence and increased financial literacy.
- A gender audit was conducted at a Rwandan farm. A gender audit helps to identify gaps in gender responsive policies and practices at the workplace.