Value chain governance and gender in the furniture industry

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Indonesian furniture accounts for almost 2% of the global wood furniture trade, which is valued at more than US $135 billion. In many countries, including Japan, European countries and Indonesia, women make decisions about selecting which furniture to buy. However, the role of women workers in the furniture industry has not been clearly identified. In Central Java's Jepara District, the center of teak-based Indonesian furniture, annual furniture exports to Australia, Europe, Japan and the United States are valued at US $150 million. We use value chain analysis and action research to demonstrate the role and position of women workers in Jepara's teak value chain, and their struggle to upgrade to more valuable value chains and positions. Though women workers are important in generating revenue, they are paid 50% less than men who work the same hours. They are also less powerful, exercising less control over resources, decision making, product development and bargaining. We further explore different scenarios for upgrading small-scale producers and find that participation in trade exhibitions, training programs and producer associations substantially affect women's bargaining power in the value chain.
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