How to Create Gender Equality in Coffee Farming

TechnoServe’s Global Gender Director Cristina Manfre recently discussed gender equality in coffee farming in a LinkedIn Live panel discussion with Nespresso.

woman coffee farming in Nicaragua

Many people around the world start their morning with a cup of coffee. In fact, two billion cups of it are consumed every single day. If you are one of the one billion people worldwide who drink coffee to help wake up, it may feel like an essential part of your life. 

But for many farmers around the world, coffee is not just a necessity for waking up in the morning. For them, coffee is a source of a thriving livelihood. 

Approximately 125 million people worldwide depend on coffee for their livelihoods, and 20% to 30% of coffee farms are run by women. And depending on the region, up to 70% of labor in coffee production is provided by women. Yet, women coffee farmers generally have lower access to resources like land, credit, and information compared to men. 

TechnoServe’s Global Gender Director Cristina Manfre recently discussed these issues in a LinkedIn Live panel discussion on gender equality in coffee farming. Joining her were Sharon Anderes, global corporate communications manager at Nespresso; Melanie Landthaler, coffee sustainability and gender equality specialist at Nespresso; Ana Victoria Portocarrero Lacayo, senior gender advisor at KIT Royal Tropical Institute; and Daniel Costa Lima, an independent consultant. 

Challenging Gender Norms in Coffee Farming 

Beliefs about gender norms often make it difficult for women to earn an income–and when they do, many can be met with resistance by members of their community. 

“In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where TechnoServe works with Nespresso, the family code actually designates men as the head of the household, meaning legally women must obey their husbands,” says Cristina. “So in practice this can mean that women may be obligated to request permission to attend agronomy training that we’re offering or to travel to a cooperative or elsewhere in their community.” 

But when women gain economic empowerment, the effects spread across families and communities. Research indicates that women invest more of their income on family needs such as food, medical care, and schooling, improving opportunities for the next generation. Women in leadership positions such as entrepreneurs, farmer trainers, or cooperative leaders, also help break down harmful gender-based norms and stereotypes in their communities, while serving as important role models for girls and other women.

How to Understand What’s Needed

“It’s not the same story in Mexico, Uganda or Ethiopia, and often there can be significant differences within the same country,” says  Cristina.

TechnoServe and Nespresso AAA worked together to design a tailored gender analysis tool and then extensively field-tested this tool in selected AAA Clusters in Indonesia, Guatemala, and Ethiopia

“We’re building a sort of resiliency in these coffee growing households,” says Cristina. She discussed how this gender analysis tool operated in this panel. 

Building Women’s Leadership 

Women around the world work tirelessly with TechnoServe in order to gain equal access to the knowledge, jobs, and finance that enhance both their incomes and their opportunities for the future.

They do this in three main ways:

  1. Participating in TechnoServe training, to help them empower them as farmers, entrepreneurs, workers, and members of farming households.
  2. Working with TechnoServe to close gender gaps in the performance of farms and enterprises led by men or women.
  3. Working with TechnoServe to build inclusive and competitive businesses that generate decent opportunities for women and men employees, suppliers, and consumers.

Much of this work involves helping families and communities to overcome gender barriers that may prevent women’s equal participation in TechnoServe programs or income-generating activities.

Click here to see how women around the world are working with TechnoServe to achieve their full potential and create economic benefits for themselves, their families, and communities.