Equal Origins launches tool to empower female coffee producers

female coffee producer
  • Women contribute up to 70% of labour in coffee production
  • An ICO report shows that the role of female coffee producers is grossly undervalued
  • Nonprofit Equal Origins has launched a tool to help organisations close the gender gap

THE NONPROFIT Equal Origins has launched a new diagnostic tool to promote gender equity in coffee and cocoa.

Called the Gender Equity Index (GEI), its aim is to help organisations ensure their programmes reach female producers and to provide them with targeted recommendations through a “shared language”.

Specifically, it is intended for a diverse array of origin suppliers and development actors that provide technical expertise to farmers and farmer groups.

The index comprises 67 questions spread across five key pillars of gender equity: reach, benefit, strategy and analysis, organisational capacity, and empowerment and transformation.

Equal Origins (formerly the Partnership for Gender Equity) then evaluates the responses and returns a report that includes a score and targeted recommendations.

From this report, organisations can go on to develop a bespoke strategy to improve their performance. They can also share their progress with industry partners, investors, and internal stakeholders.

According to the CEO of Caravela Coffee, one of Equal Origins’ partners, the goal is “to weave gender equity within existing strategies and investments”.

Why is gender equity in the coffee industry important?

A 2018 report by the International Coffee Organization shows that the role of female coffee producers is grossly undervalued.

It highlights that despite women contributing up to 70% of labour in coffee production, they have systematically lower access to resources, such as land, credit, and information, than men. The result is a “measurable gender gap in economic outcomes, including yields, productivity and farm income”.

However, evidence also suggests that when women have full participation in public, economic, and political life, it can lead to a number of significant benefits, including economic growth, poverty reduction, and higher agricultural output.

For example, closing the gender gap in low-income countries with regards to access to resources would boost global agricultural output by 2.5% to 4%, according to FAO research. This translates into higher farm income and improved household welfare.

“Women do so much work in this industry,” says Female Barista Society founder, Nicole Battefeld-Montgomery, “but they fail to be properly acknowledged or rewarded.

“This is despite studies which have shown women to be more creative, to have more level-headed judgement, and to make highly communal decisions, prioritising the well-being of the community and the future generations over immediate profit or personal gain.”

How the GEI can help close the gap

While many organisations in the coffee industry have made efforts to close the gender equality gap, monitoring their progress and efficacy can be difficult.

Measurements often miss out key indicators or fail to address less obvious areas, such as the education of men in relation to gender equity.

With the support of roasters, green coffee suppliers, and NGOs, the GEI is designed to create a shared understanding of gender equity issues that can facilitate conversations for action. It also received input from a research team at Yale University’s Jackson School of Global Affairs to identify gaps in existing services.

“The GEI is an empowerment tool,” says Kimberly Easson, founder and CEO of Equal Origins. “It’s difficult to know how effective any one action is, and the GEI is a simple tool that gives people the language to assess their gender equity capacity.

“Not only does the GEI provide essential context, but it also offers companies who want to do more or do better a launching pad to start. It’s a tool that empowers people to take action now to promote gender equity.”

Learn more about Equal Origins and its mission to build a more equitable coffee future.