Support Women in Coffee

Beth Ann Caspersen
September 29, 2015

Happy International Coffee Day!

We are so pleased to announce that the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) has just released its report, “The Way Forward: Accelerating Gender Equity in Coffee Value Chains." CQI began investigating the role of women in the coffee supply chain in 2014 through the Gender in Equity Program (GEP), of which Equal Exchange is a sustaining partner. Phase one of the program brought together organizations from all over the world, included workshops in four different countries, and culminated in a 24-page report that outlines recommendations for the coffee industry. It is very exciting to see this work come to life, and to think about how Equal Exchange has long been a supporter of women throughout the cooperative supply chain in our buying, training and business practices. But it doesn’t stop there; women play a key role in agriculture and this report encourages the coffee industry as a whole to address gender equity and women’s empowerment through systemic change.

According to the report, “Women are often excluded from the decision-making process and enjoy less access to resources, including land, credit, agricultural inputs, training, information and leadership opportunities ... The partnership believes that addressing gender equity issues in coffee-producing households and communities will lead to improved productivity and quality of coffee as well as improved livelihoods. These eight recommendations can be undertaken to accelerate gender equity in coffee value chains.”


ONE: Increase women’s’ participation in training programs and revise training programs to be gender sensitive

TWO: Develop a list of gender equity principles for coffee to unite and galvanize the industry

THREE: Improve women’s access to credit and assets

FOUR: Achieve greater gender balance in leadership positions

FIVE: Support joint decision-making and ownership of income and resources at the household level

SIX: Specifically source and market coffee from women producers and coffee produced under conditions of gender equity

SEVEN: Invest in programs to reduce time pressures for women

EIGHT: Continue to build understanding through research and measurement

The full report can be found here:

Thanks to the whole CQI team for pushing this project forward and providing the whole coffee industry with research and case studies that further prove the important role of women in coffee. I am so proud to be part of this program and look forward to making further strides in gender equity. Stay tuned as phase two will work to develop strategies, implement some of these recommendations through a series of pilot projects and determine metrics to further inform the whole coffee industry on best practices. 

Alex, Francis and Ana of PRODECOOP coffee co-op talk about their hopes for change at a Gender Equity workshop held in Palacaguina, Nicaragua, in January 2015. 

Equal Exchange Coffee Quality Manager Beth Ann Caspersen talks with Frances and Ana of PRODECOOP.