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Publication: Transnational Corporations
Title: Gender and Responsible International Investment in the Agricultural and Extractive Sectors
Type:Journal Special Issue
Editors:Carin Smaller (International Institute for Sustainable Development), Kathleen Sexsmith (Pennsylvania State University)
Deadline:November 15, 2017

Guest Editors:

Carin Smaller, Advisor on Agriculture and Investment, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), &

Kathleen Sexsmith, Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, Pennsylvania State University (Incoming Fall 2017)

Dear Fellow Scholars and Researchers:

Multinational enterprises (MNEs) in the agricultural and extractive sectors are increasingly adopting voluntary guidelines for economic, social, and environmental responsibility along their supply chains, in response to public demands for greater accountability and a stronger contribution to sustainable development. While these initiatives have had strong positive impacts in several areas, the actors involved have paid less attention to gender inequities and inequalities. Indeed, MNEs, governments, and standard-setting organizations have moved slowly and unevenly to address the gendered consequences of MNE activities in the communities where they operate. The result is a diverse set of investor practices, national policies, laws, sustainability standards, guidelines, and certification criteria that take many different approaches to gender issues. Researchers do not know enough about the impacts on gender roles and relations in communities when MNEs adopt responsible investing approaches in their international investment activities. They also do not know enough about the differences in their outcomes, or which approaches work best.

Taken together, initiatives to support MNEs in their efforts to contribute to gender equality in the communities where they operate have yet to realize their full potential. For example, some sustainability initiatives for cross-border agricultural and land investment, like Fairtrade, UTZ Certified, the CFS Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, are gender-mainstreamed in their content and take a gender-sensitive approach to implementation. Yet, some other initiatives in the agricultural and land sector include only vague non-discrimination principles. Moreover, even the most gender-sensitive agricultural investment initiatives have struggled with how to address gender bias at the level of local cultures. In the mining, oil, and gas sectors, global standards like the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative have done little to address the negative impacts of resource extraction on women’s safety in conflict zones, their exclusion from employment opportunities, and their unpaid labour burden. Although there is still plenty of work to be done, interest in the potential contributions of MNEs to gender equity and equality through responsible international investment at the current moment is high.

This special issue will focus on the gender dynamics of cross-border investments in the agricultural and extractive sectors, specifically in terms of the policies, laws, sustainability standards, guidelines, and certification criteria that shape the gendered outcomes of investments by MNEs. It will seek articles that address one or more of the following topics:

  1. The historical and political processes through which gender has come to be included – however unevenly – in the major sustainability initiatives that MNEs adopt;
  2. Analysis of the direct and indirect impacts of MNEs adopting these initiatives on gender relations and women’s empowerment in the communities where they are implemented;
  3. The influence (or the capacity to influence) of these initiatives on MNE behaviour, sustainable development, and national laws or policies in these sectors;
  4. A closely related topic agreed upon with the guest editors.

An important criterion for article selection will be relevance of findings to MNEs, policy discussions, the practical concerns of governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society organizations and communities engaging with these initiatives. Comparative research is particularly welcome.

Length of contributions: Between 5000–8000 words (plus an abstract not exceeding 150 words)

Submission deadline: November 15, 2017.

Authors are requested to submit their manuscript by email to: tncj@unctad.org

Please send questions regarding this special issue and submissions to:

Kathleen Sexsmith <kjs256@cornell.edu>

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