Gender & Coffee Production
The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) launched an initiative to address the inequality between women and men at coffee farms and processing mills in coffee producing countries around the world. As I have observed so frequently; women often do the manual, hard labor at coffee farms and mills, while in many cases, men fulfill the easier tasks.
Like in the Ethiopian country side: women and girls haul water on foot from remotely located wells. I’ve never seen men pick up those heavy water buckets. In Central America, I usually see women harvesting cherries from dawn to dusk. While the women continue working at home preparing meals and feeding the children, the men collect the proceeds and determine how the money gets spent. At coffee mills throughout the world, women do the hardest work (manual coffee sorting) while men usually perform the less strenuous tasks. Something is not right here.
When we established Finca Sophia in Panama (with our partners from Equator Coffee), we wanted to build a model for coffee quality that reaches beyond the flavor of the bean. We built comfortable housing for our workers and their families. We installed energy efficient and smoke free stoves. We encouraged that our employees cultivate their own food. And last but not least, we organized the work in such a way, that women don’t have to work at the farm to make ends meet.
One of our rising stars, is Angelica, daughter of our foreman Angel. She attends a private school through an education fund provided by the farm. Every day she rides her horse Barista to the main street from where she hops on the school bus. Gender equality in the coffee producing world and quality are intricately connected; it involves women and men. Education will prepare the new generation for a different future with less gender stereotypes and with opportunities for all. Interested to learn more about the CQI’s gender initiative? Visit their website and visit one of the workshops in 2015.