Bogota, October 8, 2015- The country will host the IV Convention of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), within the framework of ExpoEspeciales Café de Colombia 2015, thanks largely to the important achievements of Colombian coffee growing in the field of gender equality.
The work, leadership and achievements of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) in the field of gender equality contributed to the election of Colombia as the venue for the IV Convention of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), an event that will take place on October 15 and 16 in Bogotá, within the framework of ExpoEspeciales 2015.
Women in the coffee industry (from seed to cup) from India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Africa, Australia, El Salvador and Guatemala (and of course Colombia), among other countries and continents, will take part in the IV IWCA Convention “Coffee and Trade Beyond Barriers”, invited to share their experiences and build strategies to highlight coffee-growing women and in the global coffee industry.
“When the IWCA got to know our work, they were quite surprised, as well as other international organizations, about our Coffee-Growing Women Program, our gender equality policy and what the FNC has developed around women,” says Ana María Lleras, coordinator of the FNC Coffee-Growing Women Program.
World-class figures, including Robério Oliveira, Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO); Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), and Sunalini Menon, from Coffee Lab India, among others, will take part as speakers in the Convention, providing interesting overviews on the global industry and different regions, and addressing other topics such as sustainability, gender, science and coffee.
“Women, not only in Colombia, but at rural level, have had few opportunities for development and decision-making. The work we have done, with the help of consolidated information such as the Coffee Information System (Sica), enables to highlight, encourage and support women’s initiatives,” Lleras adds.
Associativity, a way to empower coffee-growing women
Strengthening and formalization of coffee-growing women associations have also enabled female Colombian coffee growers to gain spaces for decision-making. “Coffee-growing women associations in Colombia are important because it is a way the Federation has to promote women’s organizational capacity, so that they can have and consolidate spaces for joint decision-making around their economic projects, for example,” Lleras explains.
One of the biggest barriers for women in the rural sector is having decision-making spaces. The FNC, in the last decade, has been promoting women’s organizational capacity, not only to improve their coffee, but with a view to reach new marketing channels. “In these organizations they also take important decisions about household finances and other issues,” she adds.
In addition, associativity is a form of empowerment. “The FNC is now encouraging formalization of these groups in the light of Colombian regulations so that they can access national and international resources and leverage their economic initiatives around associativity,” Lleras notes.