Like Pieces of a Puzzle: Reports on Women in Coffee

Written by Kaitlin Higgins, IWCA Volunteer

As women’s rights movements make headlines in the mainstream news, women’s equality has become a focus in the coffee industry as well. With this uptick in attention, including the selected “Women in Coffee” theme of International Coffee Day, on October 1, 2018, the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) has leveraged their network of 22 chapters and many volunteers to collate the resources recently made available on the subject.

The Overview of Published Reports on Women in Coffee: 2015 - 2018 was completed in December 2018 by a group of reviewers convened by IWCA Global's Research Alliance. The seven volunteers come from five countries: Brazil, Nicaragua, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Each of the volunteers, who work professionally in roles both within and outside of the coffee industry, are committed to promoting the need for more well-designed data collection, credible analysis and public sharing of evidence-based reports on the topic of women in coffee. The last few years have seen several new reports, some widely publicized in the coffee industry, and some less so. With this document, the IWCA hopes to make it easier for researchers interested in expanding this body of literature to assess the most recent quality and types of completed works, who has contributed important field work on the topic and where the gaps remain.

This overview, while restrained in scope, boasts thoughtful reviews of qualitative and quantitative research from trade organizations such as the International Coffee Organization (ICO), businesses like Nespresso, academic institutions in both the global north and south, and industry coalitions such as the Project for Gender Equity (PGE). We find that each contributes important aspects of the “the truth” regarding women in coffee. As Raquel Santos Soares Menezes, a professor at Universidade de Viçosa in Minas Gerais, Brazil, once said (paraphrased), “None of us ever has the entire truth. We all have a piece. Like a puzzle, we are putting the pieces together. Through collaboration with research, we will have a better understanding of the truth regarding women in coffee.”

Heading photo courtesy of Artisan Coffee Imports