We, as an industry, want to make coffee the first fully sustainable commodity on this planet. And at the heart of this endeavour are people; women and men, families.
Last week, film maker and coffee specialist Xavier Hamon and the artist Hannah Stapleton have launched an exciting Kickstarter campaign to produce a genuine documentary about gender equity in our coffee community.
“I have been working alongside gender specialists in the coffee industry in the last few years, mainly in East Africa, where through participative methods- such as Gender Action Learning System – we sparked the conversation around women´s and men´s views of their tasks, roles and dynamics within the family and the wider community. I have also seen the benefits of brining GALS to families of coffee cooperatives in Peru and Nicaragua.” Xavier has worked since 2013 in the sustainability of value chains and focusing particularly on climate change and sustainable agriculture. He worked for 3 years with the NGO Twin(link) based in London.
The idea of this documentary is similar to GALS in a way. We want to spark the conversation about gender within a community and give the voices to women and men living daily in the coffee industry.
Hannah is London based visual artist predominantly working in installation and video and has been collaborating with her partner Xavier Hamon since 2016. “My way of translating social issues and communicating about what concerns me is through art practice in various mediums. When Xavier suggested to make a documentary film about gender equity issues in Mexico (or Nicaragua- we will know soon!) and go up to the States to interview other people, families and companies around this topic, I thought that the project had some real heart and that there is a story to tell here. Then I discovered that there is a genuine need for this type of work as there currently exists virtually nothing in terms of documentary film about the coffee community. And when a story has been told it is usually about the bean, the brew, the cup.”
“What we are interested in now, is bringing these stories to life. Women are known to do most of the work on coffee farms, as well as lacking access to training, finance and public speaking or representation within coffee organisations. The path to self-confidence is long and challenging and culturally new in some cases. Men are often the heads of the households and are the ones who make decisions regarding their families, but they are also stigmatized in this role. Urban migration is sometimes the only way, and the father leaves the coffee lands in order to provide for his family”.
These issues are well researched and documented thanks to industry wide partnership such as the Gender Equity Partnership (link) and their recent efforts to take practical actions and rally industry players in their Equal Origins (link) campaign. Programmes of gender work in origin are necessary but alongside them we need to raise more awareness of the realities of gender issues in the daily lives of women and men. And actually, not just in origin.
“I was working alongside a UK roaster in a cooperative in Peru in 2014. We were having a discussion with the Women Committee of the organisation when a woman confidently asked directly to the roaster, “What do you do about gender in your company?”. This bold question started an interesting conversation and for the first time I realised that the debate of gender equity shouldn’t be confined to producing countries. But rather we should be having this same discussion with one another all the way along the value chain, bringing women and men together to confront our realities and points of view on what gender equity means and looking to the way forward. We believe this could be a powerful way of re-connecting with one another and making this story a more human one”.
So let´s talk about Gender!
This documentary will take us all the way to Central America to the heart of a coffee family where we will be living and filming with them for two weeks throughout January 2018. From now until Christmas, Xavier and Hannah will be researching coffee cooperatives interested and/or involved in gender work in Mexico (Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Veracruz) and Nicaragua (Jinotega, Matagalpa) and value chains linked to this coffee. After this immersive filming period they will travel north to the West Coast of the United States (from February to March 2018) following the coffee value chain and bring this story to life through events and art exhibitions.
The film Premiere will be organised in conjunction with the Specialty Coffee Association(SCA) at the World Coffee Expo in Seattle 2018.
This documentary will only see the light if the Kickstarter campaign is a success. We can make it happen if we all get together and bring our contributions to this project before Christmas (end of campaign on 25th December at midnight).
Kickstarter page (short URL): kck.st/2lm7yAZ
By Xavier Hamon and Hannah Stapleton