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Women & Children: Our Impacts

Sixty percent of the world’s child laborers (ages 5–17) work in agriculture, which the International Labour Organization defines as farming, fishing, aquaculture, forestry and livestock. Poverty is the main cause of child labor, and it is compounded by limited access to education. Within the world’s rural communities, the poorest of the poor are often women and girls, who are disproportionately employed in jobs in which their rights are not adequately respected and social protections are limited1.

In many countries, however, it is normal for young people in rural communities to work alongside their families. The Rainforest Alliance and its partners work to safeguard children from exploitation and ensure that they have access to education while still allowing them to contribute to their families’ livelihoods in cases where such help is crucial -- as long as doing so does not put a child’s health or well-being at risk.

Higher School Attendance by Children on Rainforest Alliance Certified Enterprises

  • In a comparison of forestry enterprises in southern Brazil, 85 percent of the school-age children on FSC/Rainforest Alliance Certified forestland attended school, compared with only 15 percent of those on noncertified enterprises2.
  • In a 2009 study, children on certified cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire showed a 20 percent higher rate of regular school attendance than those on noncertified farms -- despite the fact that the former group had only been certified for two years or less. By the second stage of the study in 2011, more than 50 percent of children on certified farms had reached an age-appropriate grade level, compared with 13 percent on noncertified farms.
  • To date, more than 100,000 children have received some kind of educational assistance from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms -- including individual scholarships, funds and/or supplies that farms have donated to schools.

More Opportunities for Women and Children on Certified Farms

  • In a 2010 report that looked at more than 300 Nicaraguan coffee farms certified under three different schemes3, researchers found that Rainforest Alliance Certified farms showed the greatest involvement of women in production and household decision-making4.
  • In a separate study of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee farms in Nicaragua, farmers said that after certification, children had more opportunity attend university and women learned more about farm management5.

Sustainable Tourism Businesses Help Children and Fight Sexual Exploitation

  • Among a group of hotels in Costa Rica’s Sarapiquí region, a study measuring compliance with our criteria before and 18 months after they were adopted indicated significant improvements. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being full compliance), the average hotel score nearly doubled for criteria relating to “Sociocultural and Community Aspects,” from 4.7 to 8.6.
  • A 2010 study of businesses that participated in our sustainable tourism program found that 94 percent had taken part in international and regional campaigns to prevent the sexual exploitation of minors.

The Social Benefits of Our Work:

  1. International Labour Organization, Gender Equality in the Rural Sector: The Ever-Present Challenge, March 2, 2012,

  2. Imaflora, Does Certification Make a Difference? Impact Assessment Study On FSC/SAN Certification In Brazil, 2009,

  3. The 315 coffee farms examined were certified against Rainforest Alliance Certified, Fair Trade or Café Practices standards.

  4. Ruerd Ruben and Guillermo Zúñiga, How Standards Compete: Comparative Impact of Coffee Certification in Northern Nicaragua, Radboud University Nijmegen, Centre for International Development Issues, the Netherlands, 2010.

  5. Sandra K. Znajda, Examining the Impacts of the Rainforest Alliance/SAN Coffee Certification Program: A Summary of Local Perspectives from San Juan del Rio Coco, Nicaragua, Dalhousie University, Canada, bib. entry 0092, 2009.

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