Modern devices, outdated practices

SOMO research concludes gender equality is far remote from real life as perceived in the supply chain of consumer electronics.

Modern devices, outdated practices

The production of virtually all electronic consumer products is characterised by major social, health and ecological problems and many of these problems appear to be gender specific. The difficulties occur in different phases of the supply chain; from the bottom of the chain in the mines in Congo, Zambia and Indonesia up, often passing through many links, to the production facilities supplying the major brand companies. Moreover, these products often end up back in the developing world as e-waste.

For example, a Chinese study showed that women living in the vicinity of e-waste sites had dioxine levels in their breast milk as much as 25 times higher than the World Health Organization tolerable daily limit for adults. High levels of dioxine are known to cause cancer, development defects and other health problems. To improve the specific situations that appear, continuous attention for these issues is needed. Apart from the real supply chain, gender injustice is also rooted and can be addressed in international trade policies and practices. Policy goals related to gender are seldom incorporated in trade agreements and when they are economic goals appear to prevail. On a practical note, the paper Modern devices, outdated practices is meant to illustrate gender research and campaigning inlets focusing on the electronic supply chain. For people who want to start working on the issue the references to studies and campaigns on gender issues within various economic realms can hopefully assist in finding the right direction.

Reset: Corporate social responsibility in the global electronics supply chain
In October 2009 the Dutch CSR Platform (MVO Platform) and GoodElectronics launched an overview of CSR issues relevant for the global electronics sector. Reset is an elaboration of the 2007 CSR Frame of Reference by the MVO Platform. The overview also contains a chapter on gender. For more information see www.mvoplatform.nl and www.goodelectronics.org.

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