Women’s Roles in the Coffee Industry of Latin America

Recommendations are made as to how coffee communities can practice gender equality, how consumers and foreign influences can protect the rights of working women and increase the role of women in the coffee industry of Latin America. Women In Coffee 3 The Study Coffee is a $20 billion industry, the world’s second most sought commodity and one of Latin America’s key exports that Is stimulating economies and keeping jobs available (as cited In Goldenseal, 2011). However, behind the scenes of the coffee Industry, women are working alongside men as farmers but not treated as equals. Men working in the coffee industry are not granted the same social, economic and political rights as men. They are often abandoned, abused, and treated unfairly. In addition, it is rare for a woman to participate in the business of selling coffee. Reports show that women participate in 70 percent of the fieldwork. Harvest, and sorting processes (International Trade Forum). Yet, on average, women participate In only 1 0 percent of the export and 10 percent of Encounter trading (International Trade Forum). Changes within the hierarchy of the coffee business must be advocated so that women are revived equal opportunities.

International and regional organizations provide some support to women but in order to legally protect women’s rights, federal governments must get involved and advocate gender equality in the coffee industry. In this study these questions will be addressed: issues that affect women in the coffee industry? 3. Why do women fail to take a bigger role in the business of the industry? 4. What can non-governmental organizations do to support women’s rights and help increase the role of women in the coffee industry? Women in Coffee 4 5.

Do foreign influences have the power to boost the role of women in this industry and why have they failed to do so? Recommendations will be made as to how women’s roles in the coffee business and how gender equality within the coffee industry can be increased. Historical Analysis Latin American Coffee Industry Coffee has become one of the top international commodities and has transformed the political, economic, and ecological landscape of Latin America. The success of the coffee industry is manipulated by foreign influences and the roots of this industry can be traced back to 15th century imperialism.

The initial cultivations of coffee date back to the 15th century when coffee plants were harvested in Arabia (International Coffee Organization). The Dutch colonialists exported coffee plants to the Netherlands and started growing coffee in different territories (International Coffee Organization). The Dutch managed the trade of coffee and were the main suppliers of coffee to Europe and the Americas (International Coffee Organization) . The Dutch introduced the coffee plant in Central and South America where it eventually flourished and thrived (International Coffee Organization).

Decentralization caused a rise in coffee consumption and caused newly independent nations to depend on coffee export revenue to stimulate their economies. In the mid 19th century, 2. 5 million bags of coffee were produced globally (International Coffee Organization). Prices started to decline due to rapid expansion in parts of South America thus spurring the cultivation of coffee in Central Latin American countries including Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador and Colombia (International Coffee Women in Coffee 5 In the 20th century there was a significant rise in the demand for coffee. United

States consumption reached a peak of consumption in 1946 (International Coffee Organization). International MONGO: Cafe Feminine and International Women in Coffee Alliance Cafe Feminine Foundation, a 5010 (3) non-profit organization, was founded in 2004 by Garth and Gay Smith who noticed the need for supporting women in the coffee industry. The Smith’s ran a business where they imported and sold organic and fair trade coffees from around the world (Cafe Feminine Foundation). When they visited the remote coffee harvesting communities they recognized that women had work (Cafe Feminine Foundation).

The foundation uses its funds to help to the groups of women and communities in need of financial support for their coffee businesses. The foundation receives grant requests from producers and other organizations to support projects relating to the coffee industry. Examples of grant programs include: community garden enrichment, animal breeding programs, health programs, sanitation programs, water projects, income diversification trainings, and others (Cafe Feminine Foundation). The International Women in Coffee Alliance (IAC) was initiated in 2003 by 6 co-founders.

The first programs launched in Nicaragua that year. After the initiation of their first programs, the organization realized there was a need to impact women from the origin of their work (International Women in Coffee Alliance). International chapters were formed in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia to support regional bodies of women in the coffee industry (International Women in Coffee Alliance). In 2008, IAC began hosting international conferences supported by sponsors within the industry.

In 2010, two IAC representatives met with industry Women in Coffee 6 leaders and government officials to establish more IAC chapters. Their mission was purported greatly by the International Trade center which helped legitimate their mission (International Women in Coffee Alliance). After this mission, 10 new IAC chapters were formed in areas where women showed need for support. Foreign Influences and Consumers Coffee consumers have been the main drivers of the coffee market since its inception.

Dutch colonialism helped spread the coffee harvest across the world, American and European investors owned and controlled utilities and railroad lines which served coffee exports, and foreign powers manipulate regional governments in order to maximize their coffee exports (Topic, 59). The history of coffee plant trade portrays the presence of hierarchical systems in conducting the business of coffee. Demands for coffee created an increase of land prevarication for the business of coffee. In 1914, 5. 6 million bags of Brazilian coffee exports, 91 5,000 bags of Colombian coffee exports, and 1. Million bags of Central American coffee exports were delivered to the United States (International Coffee Organization). Comparative Analysis The World Bank estimated that over 500 million people in the world depend on coffee to support their livelihoods (International Women in Coffee Alliance). Extensive recent of coffee is grown in the Americas (as cited in Goldstein, 2011). Of those 500 million people in the global coffee industry there are many women who aren’t treated with the same rights as men when it comes to ownership and control of business transactions (International Women in Coffee Alliance).

Women in Coffee 7 labor as follows: Table 1 Women’s participation as a percentage of total workforce Function in the value chain Variation (low-high) ‘”Typical”‘ participation Fieldwork 10-90 70 Harvest 20-80 In-country trading 5-50 10 Sorting 20-95 75 Export O_ 40 (certification,laboratories etc. ) 5-35 20 International Trade Forum,2008) This shows that women are occupied with most of the manual labor that is required in the coffee industry whereas men used to occupy a greater portion of these types of labor assignments.

Although women partake in most of the manual labor, they have a smaller role in taking ownership of the coffee industry. This was determined by information gathered from the International Trade Centre and is shown in the table below: Table 2 Women’s ownership as a percentage of total (including co-ownership) Property Variations level of ownership Land used for coffee production (including user rights) 5-70 Coffee when harvested) 2-70 15 (when traded domestically) Women in Coffee 8 Companies in the coffee sector (e. G. Exporters, laboratories, certifiers,transportation) 1-30 This is the root of gender inequality in the workplace where women do more of the manual labor and less of the higher level business transactions. The magnitude of gender inequality show that women have not been active participants in the business of the coffee industry although they may have a better understanding of their products due to their high participation rate in manual labor. International MONGO: Cafe Feminine and Women in Coffee Alliance The Cafe Feminine

Foundation is different than other No’s because its fundraiser contributions help provide grants that are requested from communities of coffee farmers (Cafe Feminine Foundation). The Cafe Feminine Foundation specifically states on their website that their granting philosophy includes focusing their efforts on improving the rights, values, health, education and economics of women in coffee communities (Cafe Feminine Foundation). The foundation helps support women and promotes the integration of women into social, political, and occupational organizations (Cafe Feminine Foundation).

By doing this, they provide more opportunities for women and help improve the overall quality of life for them and their families. The International Women in Coffee Alliance has chapters in several coffee producing countries all over the world. The organization strives to change the gender inequality in the coffee industry (International Women in Coffee Alliance). The organization is a forum through which women can connect with each other and advocate for better treatment and more access to resources that would benefit their career.

These chapters are Women in Coffee 9 successful in providing support to women in the coffee industry through arrogating and discussions run by their regional chapters (International Women Coffee is the second most sought commodity in the world and the coffee industry is worth over $100 billion globally (as cited in Goldstein, 2011). Coffee shops around the world have a seven percent annual growth rate (as cited in Goldstein, 2011). The United States is the leading consumer of coffee in the world as Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day (“Coffee”, 2012).

Although Brazil is the top coffee producing country, it takes 13th place in countries that drink the most coffee per pita (as cited in Goldstein, 2011). These facts demonstrate that the power of the coffee consumer is accounted for. American coffee consumers have the greatest potential to influence behaviors in the coffee industry because of how large their consumer market is. Literature Review In the book The Second Conquest of Latin America, Topic addressed the “colon” labor system which was developed to replace slave labor in the coffee industry and replace it with working peasant families (1998).

Topic explains that the colon system emphasized the family as the unit of work and that the father of the family had intro of the family business (1998). The head of the household was paid for the harvest work (Topic 1998). Typically, the head of the household was the patriarch of the family and women were responsible for tending to household chores (Topic 1998). The tradition of the colon system broke when widows and single women started owning and working their own land (Topic 1998).

In 1910, about a third of the laborers in Mexican coffee Women in Coffee 10 markets were women (Topic 1998). In Colombia, the power of patriarchy was reduced in the frontiers that women coffee workers would travel to alone (Topic 1998). Women n the coffee industry were becoming more independent from the family enterprises through these processes. In the book Coffee and Power, Jeffery Page addresses the connection made between coffee and elitism in Latin America during the sass’s (1997, p. 3).

Coffee elitists caused political turmoil within Latin America due to the powerful influence they had on the federal government (Page, 1997, p. 5). During this period, investment in the coffee industry determined how powerful a person was. Coffee enterprises in Latin America can usually attribute the founding of their dynasty to a male ancestor from the 19th century (Page, 1997, p. 6). Coffee enterprises commonly were controlled by the elder son of the family lineage (Page, 1997, p. 16).

This explains the trend for a patriarchal framework of power rooted in the history of the coffee industry. International MONGO: Cafe Feminine and International Women in Coffee Alliance The IAC releases a yearly report which outlines chapter programs and the progress of IAC. In each report, IAC reiterates their mission which is, “To empower women n the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives and to encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee rejects of each of the separate IAC chapters.

This provides information on the how successful and proactive a particular IAC chapter is. Chapter Strengths Monthly Activities / Ongoing Projects Women in Coffee 1 1 Brazil Well-established goals; Board represents every sector of the coffee industry; allied with ZEBRAS (a Brazilian service of assistance to micro and small enterprises) Costa Rica 1 5 members representing 2,700 women; Registered brand name for MASC. packaged coffee: “Women in Harvest”; Renovated strategic planning for 2013; participated in fair trade; sold women’s coffee to USA with verification process

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