Gender Equality in Coffee: Minimizing the Gender Gap in Agriculture

Excerpt from KIM ELENA IONESCU’s introduction of the newly republished SCA White Paper titled Gender Equality and Coffee: Minimizing the Gender Gap in Agriculture, released this week in celebration of #EqualPayDay.

Many readers of the Blueprint for Gender Equality in the Coffeelands— including those that read it when it was first released in late 2015— will recognize that it is more important now than ever to address the root causes of gender equality across the coffee value chain.

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, in 2017 the global gender parity gap widened for the first time in more than a decade and 50 countries out of 192 still do not guarantee equal rights to men and women in their constitutions. While this paper focuses on needs and opportunities related to gender equality in communities that grow coffee, communities that prepare and drink coffee are witnessing (and leading in) a seismic cultural shift around sexual harassment, exemplified by the #MeToo movement.

The news isn’t all bad, though – for instance, all four of the organizations profiled in this white paper’s case studies continue their critical work to include women in value-generating activities, promote gender balance, increase women’s access to financial resources, and conduct research to build an unassailable business case for industry to invest in gender equality. Twin’s Mandaa project is now in its fifth year and reaching 25,000 farmers across four countries in East Africa, and Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union’s commitment to the GALS methodology continues to pay dividends, as they have successfully held cupping competitions and trainings including buyers in the years since this paper’s publication.

Download Gender Equality and Coffee: Minimizing the Gender Gap in Agriculture, the newly republished SCA White Paper. 

Root Capital’s 2017 Women in Agriculture Report notes a 10% increase in funding to gender-inclusive businesses since 2015 and the creation of a new Gender Equity Grants program, and the Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE) has moved from research into tool creation and pilot projects, as well as to launching Equal Origins, an initiative designed to include small coffee companies in their industry-wide campaign. PGE has also developed an engagement guide and a measurement framework with the Global Coffee Platform for its Gender and Youth collective action network.

Looking beyond coffee, the UN replaced its eight Millennium Development Goals with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. The SDGs are more specific than the previous set of goals, but progress is predicated on recognizing their interdependence. We cannot hope to make progress toward gender equality without understanding the economic, social, and environmental obstacles that lay the groundwork for inequality, nor can we address any community, anywhere in the world, in isolation. In our events, our education, and our research, the Specialty Coffee Association will continue to support and promote work being done by industry stakeholders to advance gender equality and we will continue to share our own progress.


Thank you for downloading this paper, pursuing gender equality in coffee wherever you are, and for supporting the SCA’s commitment to make coffee better.