By George Mangula
To mark International Coffee Day this year, the International Coffee Organization (ICO) to which Uganda is a member is celebrating the role of women across the value chain, and calling on both public and private sectors to empower women to achieve gender equality and increase productivity, supply and sustainable consumption.
In its new report – Gender equality in the coffee sector – published on October 1 2018, the ICO confirms with hard data that women make a crucial contribution to the global coffee sector. Depending on the region, around 25 percent of farms are operated by female growers and up to 70 percentof on-farm labour is provided by women. However, there is a gender productivity gap.
According to the ICO’s Executive Director, Mr José Sette, “Women are often held back by limited access to quality land, leadership opportunities, quality education, input and output markets, and finance. Our research has shown, however, that closing the gender gap by empowering women and improving their access to resources would not only contribute to gender equality, but also generate a wide range of social and economic benefits, including improved health and nutrition for the household, helping to eradicate poverty and increasing prosperity”.
Fostering gender equality is recognized as a crucial element of rural development and sustainable agricultural supply chains, and can contribute to building female farmers’ resilience to the challenges of volatile coffee prices and climate change. With a predicted increase in consumption of another 40 to 50 million 60kg bags by 2030, closing the gender gap could also unlock an increase in coffee production by an additional 4 to 6.5 million bags – the equivalent of an extra 30 billion cups of coffee per year.
He adds: “Due to its economic importance in many tropical low income countries, the coffee sector can make an important contribution to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. At the ICO we are calling on both the public and private sectors to work together to empower women in the coffee sector and to implement more gender-sensitive approaches to help close the gender gap.”
“As a global community we simply cannot afford to deny women equal opportunities if we are to meet future demand for coffee. We want coffee to have a strong future. For this reason fostering gender equality is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do,” he said.
Along with encouraging all parties to celebrate the role and empowerment of women in coffee on International Coffee Day, the ICO will be holding a webinar exploring gender equity in the coffee sector, in conjunction with Global Coffee Platform, the International Women’s Coffee Alliance and the Partnership for Gender Equity.
To formally launch its Gender equality in the coffee sector report the ICO will also be partnering with the Brazilian Embassy in London in a panel discussion and reception Celebrating and Supporting Women in Coffee with Brazil.