Women are the backbone of agricultural production, accounting for almost half of the global workforce in this area. However, due to deep gender inequalities, many of these women are unable to reach their full potential, and the coffee industry is no exception.
The gender gap in coffee production
A significant wage gap
In 2014, the income gap in seven producer organizations in East Africa was measured at 39%. The predominance of men in the transport and final sale of coffee also worsens the income disparity between men and women. When men receive money from coffee sales, women find it more difficult to access it.
The double burden
Women often face a "double burden" because they not only work on farms, but also take care of daily household chores, such as raising children, transporting water, preparing meals, housekeeping, etc.
Interviews with couples of coffee farmers in Uganda revealed that women work much more hours compared to men. The men worked an eight-hour workday, while the women worked up to 15 hours per day, including the total hours spent on coffee production and housework.
Lack of resources and support
Up to 70% of the work in coffee plantations - planting, picking, processing, sorting, etc. - is carried out by women according to the 2018 report of the International Coffee Organization (OIC). Despite everything, a research shows that women have systematically less access to resources like land and credit than men.
Although there are more and more women farmers, the decision-making roles in coffee production are still largely in the hands of men.
Low-income and indigenous women producers, in particular, are more likely to have less access to the resources, coffee training and trade networks they need to improve the yield and quality of coffee and to market their crops.
In short, women are generally limited to less influential roles in the coffee value chain.