Minding the Gender Gap! What Gender Equity Can Add to Smallholder Coffee Communities in East Africa

Contact Name: Gyde Feddersen
Email: gyde.feddersen@hrnstiftung.org
Phone: +004940808112422
Project URL: http://www.hrnstiftung.org/
Organization Name: Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung

Project: Minding the Gender Gap! What Gender Equity Can Add to Smallholder Coffee Communities in East Africa
Location: Uganda
Projected Impact: 17,000

Project Description
Women in rural Uganda provide a lion’s share of the workload put into coffee farming. From tending coffee gardens to picking, drying, and sorting coffee beans, they account for up to 70 percent of the total labor when producing coffee. Additionally, they are often solely responsible for running the household and taking care of the family, from making sure that there is food on the table to paying for their children’s education. However, they are rarely given the same access to various opportunities and resources that the men are given.

More often than not, men own, manage, and control their family’s land, financial assets, and income. As a result, it is common for women to side sell unripe coffee at low prices to local middlemen in order to pay for basic household needs. In addition, due to their diverse roles within their family and community, women often cannot engage in capacity-building activities, which then can result in lower production and inferior quality of coffee. As a consequence, disregarding women’s stake in coffee farming reduces the benefits that families can gain from coffee production and directly affects the entire coffee value chain.

Together, with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AgriBusiness Initiative Trust, the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) has been piloting an initiative since 2010. This initiative is designed to increase women’s visibility in smallholder coffee communities and to promote shared decision-making within families. Besides actively involving women in agronomy and marketing trainings to improve their technical skills, the program focuses on raising women’s profile by encouraging a change of mindset. Through so-called ‘couple seminars,’ women and men are motivated to reflect on their daily workload, income situation, and interaction. By analyzing the different tasks each household member assumes within the family and its coffee business, and how these tasks affect productivity and income, the participants naturally conclude that more balance is needed.

Following the seminars, couples expressing commitment to shared decision-making and a willingness to socialize their experience with other members of their community are identified as ‘change agents.’ These couples then receive ongoing coaching from HRNS, but are otherwise entirely self-motivated. Drama shows and community dialogues further help to create awareness and disseminate key messages.

What You Can Do to Help
For more information, please watch our gender movie on Youtube: “Improving Gender Relations in Coffee-Farming Households.” You can also contact us directly for more information.

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