Pastora Caballero owns and runs a coffee farm in the community of Tepatlaxco, Veracruz, in Mexico. She has proactively harnessed the support of technical advisors as part of the AAA Program to raise productivity and reduce the use of agrochemicals – using live barriers such as corn to conserve soils – as well as introducing new practices to control weeds and undergrowth.
Pastora is a leader of her local community, sharing best practices with fellow farmers, such as how to correctly select ripe cherries or which protective equipment should be used when farming. Even the local schools are benefitting – showing students how these sustainable farming practices can be best applied.
THE IMBALANCE OF WOMEN’S ROLES IN COFFEE
Without question, Pastora is an exceptional producer and a shining example of the influential role women play in coffee production. However, such levels of influence are not the norm.
According to the International Coffee Organization’s “Gender equality in the coffee sector” report – which features the AAA Program as a case study – women contribute significantly to the global coffee sector. While their role in coffee production is crucial, women have less access than men to resources such as land, credit and information.
This gender gap doesn’t just place women at a disadvantage. It affects overall farm productivity and household welfare.
AAA ADDRESSES EXISTING GENDER INEQUALITIES
It has been five years since AAA started working on gender equality by changing the program from within, identifying gender gaps and redressing its policies. In 2017, a global gender equality strategy was developed to ensure that the AAA Program reaches and benefits both men and women equally. Targeted interventions are reducing gender disparities and increasing women's empowerment while we strive to contribute to industry-wide change.
A first milestone in this journey was the introduction of a gender analysis tool designed to provide the insights to enable action to be taken so that women are given access to the resources they need and are empowered to be part of the decision-making process. Piloted in three Nespresso sourcing regions – Aceh in Indonesia, Fraijanes in Guatemala and Sidamo in Ethiopia – and peer reviewed by both gender and agricultural experts, it has proved invaluable.
The gender analysis tool is now widely recognised as an example of best practice and is now used by many gender practitioners in the agricultural sector, as well as featuring in many publications.
Agronomists have a strong influence on farmers because of the knowledge they share and the respect they garner. They serve as important role models and help sensitize community and cooperative leaders. Recruiting female agronomists has a direct impact on the amount and quality of the training to which female farmers have access. It's also a powerful factor in shifting the perspective of women farmers, from invisible labourers to producers in their own right.
Today, over 30% of AAA agronomists are women and we hope to continue to drive this percentage higher.
CATALYSTS FOR GENDER TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGE
Nespresso and KIT Royal Tropical Institute worked together to design a highly innovative and intensive learning programme for AAA agronomists, strengthening their capacity to analyse, understand and address gender inequalities in their particular work environments. Over a period of up to 12 months, regional gender trainers work closely with agronomists to translate abstract gender concepts into their daily reality. They develop skills to increase women's access to knowledge, participation and learning. They also strengthen attitudes and behaviours conducive for gender equality, for themselves, and for the men and women they work with.
GENDER EQUALITY LEADS TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Research has shown that gender-sensitive supply chain policies and programmes enable women to have increased access to extension services, finances, human as well as social capital, and productive assets. This in turn helps them to produce coffee more efficiently, achieve higher yields and farm profits. Women with an income and decision-making role in the family are also more likely to invest their income into the family’s health, nutrition and education. This reality translates into a lower likelihood of child labour as well as improved health, water and sanitation.
It shows that gender equality is more than just a basic human right. It acts as a springboard to sustainable development.
KOFI ANNAN, FORMER SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
“GENDER EQUALITY IS MORE THAN A GOAL IN ITSELF. IT IS A PRECONDITION FOR MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF REDUCING POVERTY, PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND BUILDING GOOD GOVERNANCE.”