Promoting equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace is in line with the UN's sustainability goal number 5: "Equality between the sexes"

16. mars 2024

By Clara Valente, NORSUS.

To increase the equal opportunities for men and women at work is in line with the goal number 5 “gender equality” in the UN Sustainable Development Goal Agenda. When we talk about gender equalities in the social Life Cycle Assessment methodology, we evaluate the equal opportunity management practices and the application of the principle of non- discrimination in the opportunities offered to the workers by the organizations.

For measuring whether women and men have equal opportunities, we may use these indicators:

For example, in the EU funded project RoBUTCHER recently concluded, we assessed the potential social consequences that the introduction of an autonomous robotic system can have on the gender equality in the pork processing sector when replacing the conventional slaughter and linear cutting process based on manual labour. We found out that when it comes to the proportion of women in the pig meat sector, the women are strongly underrepresented in this sector, because of manual and physically heavy work. However, with automation, the way of working will change, becoming significantly less physically demanding and thus opening more opportunities for women. The robots developed in the project will require different qualifications and most likely a different educational background for the butchers than a traditional one has today. During the activity of focus group interviews the participants answered that they believed that women would get more job opportunities with the introduction of autonomous robotic system such RoBUTCHER.

This does not mean that it will be easy to increase the proportion of women in the pig abattoirs. For example, education in robotics and engineering will become more relevant for a butcher employed in an automated slaughterhouse.

Today, there is a low share of women in the abattoir, mainly because the work is physically demanding. This can change with more widespread use of automation, but one must be careful that a larger share of women will be recruited in the automated abattoir. It will be important that the meat processing sector think about actions for promoting gender equality at early stage in a such way as to avoid one more time to end up in recruiting a larger share of male workers.

Read more: NORSUS, Mat og Marked.