Ethical trade, through codes of practice, forms an important part of the value chains for horticultural products sourced from Africa by major European buyers. This paper explores the relationship between value chains in the horticultural sector, the employment patterns of African producers, and the process of code implementation from a gender perspective. It asks whether, in the context of the gendered economy, codes alone can improve working conditions for all workers. Using case studies of Kenyan flowers, South African fruit, and Zambian flowers and vegetables, the article highlights the implications of flexible employment strategies for workers, and shows that social codes have not necessarily achieved better outcomes for women and informal workers, owing to the gendered economy. Ultimately, it is only by addressing the local gendered economy that the employment conditions of all workers, including those of marginal workers and women, are likely to improve.
Development in Practice (2005) 15 (3&4): 559-571 [DOI: 10.1080/09614520500075771]