Women make up 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labor force on average, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It makes sense, then, that if we want to make sustainable agriculture the norm, we have to do all we can to ensure gender equality on farms and agriculture-related businesses.
As part of that effort, we recently brought together partner organizations for a week-long workshop in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in which 26 participants learned ways to identify gender gaps in coffee supply chains. At the end of the week, participants went into the field to practice using the tools they had learned.
The workshop attendees, ranging from grower association representatives to non-profit leaders, became acquainted with five tools presented by AgroProFocus, a Dutch organization that specializes in strengthening gender equality and sustainability in supply chains. This workshop, whose participants hailed from Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, was the last of a series; workshops on tea in Malawi, coffee and tea in Uganda, and cocoa in Indonesia were held earlier this year as part of the Rainforest Alliance’s UTZ Sector Partnerships Program.
Here are the five tools participants learned:
1. Mapping the value chain through a gender lens
Generally, women’s work—whether domestic or in the field—happens behind the scenes, and it’s often not remunerated. The goal of this activity is to make visible the work of women in the coffee supply chain.
For this exercise, participants list responsibilities of men and women in the home, as well as the household resources. Then they analyze the differences in contributions and benefits.
3. Gender scan for service providers
Service providers—meaning anyone from a rural finance institution to the mills that dry coffee beans—answer questions to perform a self-assessment. The answers, along with a numerical value, are represented in a graph that can be compared over the years as a way of planning and tracking improvements.
4. Analysis of services through drawings
This exercise, which uses drawings to note the respective activities of men and women, offers a way for low-literacy communities to participate in gender exercises. Later in the activity, participants share their drawings and compare them, discussing similarities and possible reasons behind any differences in their impressions of the work men and women do.
The last tool poses questions that aim to uncover both negative and positive working conditions for women within a given organization. As an alternative, focus groups with men and women employees can provide information for cross-referencing to help establish gaps that need to be addressed.
The objective of all the tools is to provide ways to identify and address gender inequalities in the coffee supply chain—a critical part of creating a better world for people and nature.