25 March 2015 zichtbaarzijn

By Angelica Senders

Contribution to the on- line consultation ‘Promoting inclusiveness in the Dutch policy agenda on trade and international cooperation, on Include knowledge platform.

Inclusive development is not only in the benefit of those previously excluded, but also makes optimal use of capacities of a broader range of people. There are serious business arguments for including women and youth in economic development. Dutch policy should promote inclusion of women and youth in business partnerships by actively supporting systematization and dissemination of experiences illustrating the business case for inclusiveness. 

This has been proven in the coffee sector where the inclusion of women has had positive results.

Women form the majority of the world’s estimated 25 million coffee farmers, yet coffee is seen as a men’s crop. A sustainable supply of good quality and sufficient quantity of coffee for mainstream and specialty markets is often hampered by unequal distribution of information, labor, other resources and benefits within the coffee farming families. Women do much of the production activities, men tend to benefit more from training in sustainable coffee practices, inputs, income and other benefits derived from coffee sales. This unequal distribution leads to many inefficiencies in the coffee chain, and hampers the development of the coffee sector in general, and production in particular. These issues need to be addressed by business partners in the chain to create a sustainable increase in the production of coffee, reach better quality and thus an increase in profits.

In order to get the buy –in of women interventions also have to address gender based constraints relating to lack of voice of women both at household and producer organization level. As long as coffee is perceived as a male crop from which only men benefit, women will not be interested in investing in the coffee production, they might even frustrate modernization of the sector, by picking and side selling (unripe) beans. Including women in coffee programs on equal footing with men offers a win-win for women, families and companies.

Coffee ToolkitThere are also business arguments for the inclusion of youth in the coffee sector. World-wide the average age of coffee farmers is rising, and youth lost interest in the sector. Only when youth is convinced of the profitability of modern coffee production they will be interested to invest in it. Like with women, youth’s biggest constraints need to be addressed (access to land and technology). This is in the benefit of the sector as youth is an ideal catalyst for change given their greater propensity and willingness to adopt new ideas. Successful inclusion of youth therefore also creates a win-win for young people and companies.

Dairy is another sector in which recognizing and addressing the hidden role of women contributes to modernization of the chain. In a study carried out by Silja Heyland the gender strategy of 8 dairy programs worldwide is compared.

Findings suggest that gender-inclusion contributes to a win-win situation of local business and producer households. It increases milk volume and milk quality, which enables producers to address new (formal) markets. Next to that, it supports collaboration and exchange between wife and husband. Successful gender-inclusion makes women visible as dairy producers, includes them in dairy producer organizations and develops new business opportunities.

Read more:

  1. Coffee toolkit ‘Sustainable coffee as a family business; approaches and tools to include women and youth’ a publication by HIVOS, AgriProFocus and the Sustainable Coffee program supported by IDH/ Sustainable Trade Initiative October 2014.
  2. Read the full thesis of Silja Heyland for more arguments and successful strategies for a gender sensitive strategy of the dairy value chain development!
  3. Watch film Gender unchained, This short film gives arguments for gender inclusive value chains; illustrated with an animated cartoon on gender inclusive dairy value chain development in Nicaragua.
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