The Power of Women in Coffee

Just two months ago, many of us travelled through Mexico City en route to the IWCA Convention in Puebla, Mexico. It was a time of celebration, connection, and new beginnings with the inaugural IWCA Chapter Leadership Summit.

But as even the least connected among us know, last week, disaster struck in Mexico. As the recovery effort moves forward, the cities that IWCA helped to fill with happy memories are now the scenes of heart-wrenching devastation that humble the most stoic. Mainstream media headlines capture the magnitude of loss and sadness, as well as the power of volunteers, neighbors, friends, and strangers working together to find both a path forward and comfort in a time of great loss.

The IWCA Mexico Chapter is helping to power that work. Over the past few days, the IWCA women whose drive and dedication once welcomed thousands to festivities in Puebla with open arms, channeled that energy to tirelessly support recovery workers with coffee, pastries, and other refreshments to fuel their difficult and dangerous days and nights.

For those who know IWCA and IWCA Mexico, please be reassured that all of the women of the IWCA Mexico Chapter are safe. For those newly discovering IWCA, in this time of great tragedy and uncertainty, we see the power of organized and empowered women, working together in coffee.

 

To follow IWCA, join us on Facebook or the IWCA Newsletter (sign up appears at the bottom of the IWCA website). To learn more about how you can support the IWCA global network or a specific IWCA Chapter, please visit the Coffee Days or Donate pages.

 

2017 IWCA Leadership Summit and Convention Recap

New! Visit the IWCA YouTube Channel to experience the 2017 IWCA Convention for yourself!

During the first week of August more than 100 women, representing a variety of roles across the coffee value chain, convened in Puebla, Mexico for the 2017 IWCA Leadership Summit and Convention. The bi-annual convention is an opportunity for chapter members and industry leaders to exchange ideas and experiences about inclusion, gender balance and overall challenges facing the coffee sector.

 

FIRST IWCA LEADERSHIP SUMMIT: OF METRICS TO MEMORIES
The inaugural  IWCA Leadership summit provided an all-day  forum for IWCA Chapters Leaders to work together to advance the development of their own chapters and strengthen the  IWCA global organization. Eighteen chapters, including women from all major coffee growing regions worked side by side to define a common membership metric, share success stories that support IWCA’s five pillars {insert link to five pillars pg}, and build the interpersonal connections that are critical to IWCA’s unique success.

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CONVENTION: 3-DAYS and a WEALTH of INFORMATION
Insightful dialogue continued throughout over the following three days of the Convention with panel discussions exploring a range of issues from the relationship between sustainability and inclusion, to policies, principles and research that are helping to drive women’s empowerment. Conversations included effective strategies for greater market access in their respective regions, emerging consumer trends, and new technologies. Attendees also had opportunities to participate in educational workshops that focused on improving quality, increasing productivity, and enhancing business skills.

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IWCA CONTINUES TO GROW
The convention in Puebla also marked the continued expansion of IWCA  as a global entity with the official signing of an Indonesian chapter. In addition, the organization signed letters of intent to establish future chapters in China and Australia. Much of IWCA’s programming, including events like the Leadership Summit and Convention, are supported by industry sponsors and partners. The connections,  insights, and outcomes from this event will aid in the future development and success of the global chapters.

WITH SINCERE APPRECIATION
The robust content of the convention would not have been possible without the participation of industry leaders who served as moderators, panelists, and speakers including:

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  • Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director, Specialty Coffee Association

  • Jose Sette, Executive Director, ICO

  • Kellem Emanuele, Director, Attego ESG Impact Solutions

  • Ted Lingle, Sr. Advisor, Coffee Quality Institute

  • Nicole Gobeth, Fundacion Solidaridad LatinoAmericana

  • Victoria Garcia, founder 147, Mexico Shark Tank panelist and a Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women in Mexico” 2016

  • Jennifer Gallegos, Vice President, IWCA (better with Director, Farmer Brothers Coffee?)

  • Grace Mena, Founder/President, Delicafe

  • Karen Cebreros, Founder, Earth’s Choice

  • Dr. Jorge Flores

 
  • Verena Fischersworring, Hanns Neumann Stiftung

  • Ted Lingle, Sr, Advisor and BOD, Coffee Quality Institute

  • Joanna Furgiuele, Executive Director Coffee Kids

  • Mike Ebert and Renee Espinoza, Firedancer Coffee Consultants

  • Karla Ly Quinones, Perfect Daily Cup

  • Ruth Ann Church, Chair of IWCA Research Alliance committee

  • Raquel Santos Menezes, Professor, Universidade de Viçosa, Brazil

  • Claudia del Pilar Rodriguez Mejia -Gender Equity Program Coordinator, National Federation of Coffee Growers, Colombia

  • Mrs. Francis Pérez Arroniz

Convention Sponsors and IWCA Leadership Summit Host:

  • BUNN, Convention Sponsor
  • Gavina, Convention Sponsor
  • Italian Coffee Company, Summit Host

IWCA Scholarship fund contributors made it possible for 18 IWCA Chapter to engage and contribute in Puebla:

 
  • Schluter Coffee Company
  • Baratza
  • Cafe Culture
  • City Girl Coffee
  • Columbia Street
  • Roastery
  • Crop to Cup
  • Kohana Coffee Company
  • InterAmerican Coffee
  • Red Rock Roasters
  • S&D Coffee & Tea
 
  • Temple Coffee Roasters
  • Urnex
  • Schluter Coffee Company
  • SCA
  • Royal Cup
  • Appolinaire Ngwe, President CICC
  • UTZ Kenya
  • WCE

The mission of IWCA is to empower women in 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 industry. To learn more about how you can support IWCA events and programs click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Reducing the Gender Data Gap - IWCA Releases New Estimates

By Ruth Ann Church, Artisan Coffee Imports

Sometimes the simplest questions are the hardest to answer. "How many female coffee producers are there?" is one of these questions. A small group of women came together in 2015 under the umbrella of the International Women in Coffee Alliance (IWCA) to make answering this question the focus of their newly formed "IWCA Research Alliance." Via long-distance conference calls coordinated over multiple time zones, the committee announced last week the baseline estimates for four countries.

Estimates from the IWCA Research Alliance of female coffee producers by country:

Rwanda: 113,846, 32% of total

Costa Rica: 15,450, 34% of the total

El Salvador: 6,700, 33% of total

Guatemala: 4,000 - 7,000, 19 - 22% of total

(Sources detailed below.)

Simple, right? How hard could it be to track down four numbers? I found out it is way harder than one would think back in 2013 when I first tried to help the IWCA estimate its potential impact. The ICO does not track it. Neither does CQI, SCAA, SCAE, NCA, the World Bank, ACDI-VOCA, Technoseve nor any of the other international organizations one might think would be concerned with such estimates. But many national organizations do dedicate resources to understand the number of women in the coffee value chain. 

The IWCA Research Alliance recognized that fact and utilizes IWCA's uniquely well-suited volunteer structure for tackling this gender data gap. 

SOURCES: 

  • From Rwanda, IWCA's volunteer Zafarani Uwingabire, identified the number of female producers in the 2015 coffee census report published by Rwanda's National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), which was released in May 2016.

  • From Costa Rica, volunteer Gabriela Soto gathered the estimate from Instituto del Cafe de Costa Rica (ICAFE). As is often the case in research, her "result" raised as many questions as it answered. How valid is this number? Does it include names of women who may be 'registered' as coffee farmers, but in reality are never on the farm? Does it include all the small producers, even if they are not registered? 

  • For Guatemala, volunteer Blanca Castro met with Anacafe and Luisa Fernanda Correa Mancia, one of Anacafe's technicians, shared their current estimates from two different sources. One, from the small producers organization put the percentage of women producers higher than the estimate from the database of registered producers during last harvest 2016/2017.

  • For El Salvador, volunteer Maria Botto, who is a coffee producer herself, dug into her own records from the Consejo (El Salvador's national extension group) to find the figures they published for 2013. The Consejo is in touch with Ms. Botto to share updated numbers later this year.

Acting as the platform in coffee focused on organizing, researching, training and empowering women in coffee, the IWCA has established legal chapters now in 20 producing countries. [Learn more about IWCA's 20 chapters here.] The organization proudly collaborates with many actors across the industry to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2017.

Celebrating The International Day of Rural Women

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on October 15, 2008 and was established by the United Nations to recognize the critical contributions of rural women. This year, surrounded by the aroma of fresh coffee and the sights of cacao beans, the tireless women of the Costa Rica Chapter of the International Women Coffee Alliance (IWCA), along with the valuable cooperation of CoopeTarrazu, the Department of Agriculture (MAG) and the National Center for Women (INAMU), hosted the first ever Fair to celebrate the Rural Women's International Day in Costa Rica.  

Honored by the presence of more than 30 women farmers, representing communities from nearby Tarrazu, Perez Zeledon, and as far as Monteverde, Talamanca and Limon, these special women shared their farming experiences and lifted each others spirit with the solidarity that can only be found among women farmers.

Attendees heard stories of backbreaking work and sacrifice. From fishing, to coffee, and cacao farming the CoopeTarrazu warehouse was transformed into a showroom filled with the fruit of women’s labor.  Over 25 stands were present offering single origin coffees, hand made chocolates, farmer’s raincoats, aprons, leather, recycled artisan crafts, natural beauty products, and delicious recipes made with coffee and organic chocolate ingredients. The weekend celebration was a clear display of the undeniable spirit of entrepreneurship and strength of women. 


The (IWCA- Costa Rica Chapter) is proud to support women farmers, and to advocate for gender equality and work opportunities. Aside from their own coffee brand, Women’s Harvest, perhaps their most important achievement thus far was the creation of an International Certification designed to empower women, Women Care Certified.  This past weekend, CoopeTarrazu, one of the most progressive and successful cooperatives in Costa Rica, with over 1500 women members, recognized the efforts of the Alliance and the importance of Women Care Certified by committing to become the first Cooperative to be certified in the country. This is a remarkable step towards guaranteeing a gender equity policy and the empowerment of the women in this cooperative.  Along with the recent signing of the CoagroNevada cooperative in Colombia, the Certification is gaining momentum.