Women’s Work: The Economic Imperative for Gender Equity in Coffee

“Gender equality is both a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation of an economically prosperous coffee community.”

Robério Oliveira Silva, former Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO)

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This International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the work of women in coffee, and to advocate for gender equality across the entire supply chain.

But how can the coffee industry go beyond the hashtag and create systematic opportunities for women to thrive?

Supporting Women All Year Long

This is not only an ethical imperative – it’s a missed business opportunity.

On a global level, women do 70% of the work on coffee farms but own only 15% of the land and traded beans. Economic (and often cultural) challenges mean that they are unable to access the funding, resources, or health care that they desperately need.

Yet studies show that empowering women coffee farmers leads to healthier families, more resilient communities, and higher quality crops. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that closing the global gender gap in agriculture would increase yields on farms by 20-30%, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12-17%.

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Source: CQI

Taking Action

The following recommendations from the CQI’s comprehensive gender equity report, “The Way Forward,” were vetted by industry leaders and participants of the producer workshops for validity and applicability.

  • Increase women’s participation in training programs and revise training programs to be gender sensitive.
  • Invest in programs to reduce time pressures for women.
  • Improve women’s access to credit and assets.
  • Support joint decision making and ownership of income and resources at the household level.
  • Achieve greater gender balance in leadership positions.
  • Specifically source and market coffee from women producers and coffee produced under conditions of gender equity.
  • Develop a list of gender equity principles for coffee to unite and galvanize the industry.
  • Continue to build understanding through research & measurement.

Continuing the Conversation

Learn more about this critical issue and take the first steps towards a better future – for everyone.

(And if you are attending the NCA Annual Convention 2017 in Austin, consider registering for the IWCA Luncheon fundraiser, featuring Meg Jones, UN Women.)

Reading

8 Steps to Building Gender Equity into the Global Coffee Supply Chain

The Power of Parity

Changing the Lives of Women in Coffee

Organizations

Grounds For Health

CQI Partnership for Gender Equity

International Women’s Coffee Alliance

 

Share your thoughts – or suggest additional resources and recommendations – in the comments below.

Compiled by Kyra Auffermann, NCA

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