Gender equity is good for the coffee business.
The Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE) believes that vibrant farming communities are the key to producing better coffee, and more of it. Therefore, they’re working to address this issue through large-scale collaboration, standardized best practices, and stronger data – starting with the report, “The Way Forward: Accelerating Gender Equity in Coffee Value Chains.”
During a recent NCA webinar, “Gender Equity: Strengthening the Links of the Coffee Supply Chain,” industry experts Kimberly Easson, Samantha Veide, and Chad Trewick discussed key findings, required resources, and where the industry can go from here.
Four highlights emerged from the research:
1. The business case for gender inclusion
Hard data is important. We need to know and understand how inclusion moves the dial and strengthens the coffee industry.
Historically, gender equity was a neglected and underfunded cause. But gender is not a niche issue.
“We need to look broadly at the industry,” Trewick says, “and use gender equity as a catalyst for initiatives across the sector.”
Beyond being the right thing to do, gender equity has tangible benefits for the bottom line. When you include all participants, not only just the male participants, you are exponentially furthering the impact of the intervention through simply engaging more people. This leads to greater returns.
Of course, companies have different priorities. Therefore, it is important is to identify the impact that gender equity in a way that can have a positive impact on the bottom line – regardless of priorities.
2. Data and key performance indicators to support the monitoring and evaluation of gender equity
How can we go beyond “reach” to measure real impact?
This is a priority for the industry, and testing is being developed to understand key metrics. Developing and identifying diagnostic tools can help set standard benchmarks.
These numbers will create more opportunities to show the value of gender inclusion across the industry.
3. Methodologies, interventions, and strategies that are simple to implement and understand
Local change agents critical for a successful initiative at origin. These champions understand cultural nuances, and can help facilitate respectful communication with producers and the community.
Gender equity begins in the household. Equality thrives when it has a solid foundation. Learning basic financial literacy is crucial to empower producers to navigate the business side of coffee farming.
But to effect systemic change, gender issues must be identified at multiple levels of the coffee supply chain, from household to organizational. Inclusive diversity in leadership has a positive impact across the industry.
4. Financing gender equity
While businesses fund a variety of training on technical assistance, funding for gender initiatives lags behind.
Many companies said that they would be willing to fund gender equity investments if and when it is possible to measure the impact of the investment. Otherwise, when it is proven that investing in gender equity can have a measurable benefit (through quality, profit, or other), they will be willing to invest.
One opportunity to garner financial support and integrate inclusion into the supply chain may be to embed gender equity investments within larger initiatives – like technical training. Gender can be a catalyst for larger, systemic change.
Increasing consumer demand for socially responsible coffee will lead to more funding as well. (It’s a virtuous circle.)
For some organizations, marketing coffee as “women’s coffee” can allow an entry point for the conversation about gender equity in coffee. This should continue to be used as a tool for consumer education, creating a positive cycle of empowerment from crop to cup.