Women play crucial roles in coffee value chains; however, their contribution often remains invisible, this can lead to inefficient chains. In consequence, business opportunities may suffer and profits will be lower and/ or unequally distributed. Moreover, existing gender inequities will be perpetuated. Agri-ProFocus and Fair & Sustainable Advisory Services (Angelica Senders and Marjoleine Motz) commissioned a study to Nora Fedisch, Bachelor student Fair Trade Management of Van Hall Larenstein to identify key success factors for a gender inclusive approach to the development of coffee value chains.
Addressing Gender ineQUALITY in coffee- A starting point for constructing sustainable value chains?!
By Nora Fedisch
Research has shown that women are the key source of labor in the East African coffee sector; women execute important tasks of harvesting, drying, hulling and sorting the coffee beans. Men are involved in management and trading; they also control access to resources such as land, input and other investments for coffee cultivation. Due to these unequal gender relations women are often not the direct economic beneficiaries from coffee production revenues in spite of all the labor they put into it. For the same reason women also miss out on training opportunities and education in general. There is evidence that addressing gender inequalities has positive influence on constructing sustainable value chains, boost economic growth and reduce poverty. According to the FAO (2011) ‘Had women enjoyed the same access to productive resources as men, women could boost yield by 20-30 per cent; raising the overall agricultural output in developing countries by two and a half to four per cent’. Despite this, the urgency to address gender issues and knowledge on how to do this is rather limited among practitioners and policy makers.
This study, commissioned by Agri-ProFocus and Fair & Sustainable Advisory Services, aims to screen gender inclusive interventions which support value chain development in the east African coffee sector and to identify their success factors.
Interviews were conducted with development agencies and organizations developing standards for sustainability (e.g. Fair Trade and Utz) on how gender is taken into account in their work, the effect of these interventions on the relation between men and women in the household and in the value chain, success factors and challenges encountered.
The study concluded that addressing gender inequality makes SENSE since it can act as an instrument for realizing quality and quantity increase in production, increased welfare in families and communities, and more secured income, just to name a few. Success factors which contributed to these results can be described as: executing an in depth baseline analysis on gender issues; involving gender sensitive practitioners; training of trainers programs that include gender issues next to Good Agricultural Practices, certification and leadership, promoting male and female role models within communities, promoting equal access for men and women to market information and loans; using a gender sensitive monitoring and evaluation systems. While conducting the study, development organizations seemed to be ahead in addressing gender issues compared to sustainability standard organizations. However, sustainability standard organizations also proved to act as potential facilitators of gender inclusive interventions by especially promoting gender inclusiveness trough training programs before or next to implementing gender inclusive criteria into the standard.
The importance of including gender aspects into any value chain development intervention is indisputable. Therefore it is recommended to implement a gender inclusive approach straight from the beginning of any value chain development project. This calls for practitioners able to address gender inequalities while promoting value chain development. This study offers guidelines and good examples for doing so.