Women play an important role in agricultural production all around the world, but all too often women farmers face challenges that their male counterparts don’t. In many rural communities, for example, women farm without the benefit of owning land or trees—a key requirement for membership in many coops. This marginalization, in turn, limits their access to information and resources related to the kinds of sustainable farming methods that could increase their yields.
Clearly, then, giving women farmers equal access to the tools and knowledge they need is imperative to a sustainable future. Gender equality also helps reduce poverty, and positively impacts the larger community, since women tend to invest their earnings in the health and education of children and families.
That’s why the Rainforest Alliance, through its UTZ Sector Partnership (SP) program, works on a range of initiatives and projects all around the world to achieve gender equality. In the coffee sector alone, for example, we are working with the Coffee Quality Institute’s Partnership for Gender Equity on a project designed to build women’s leadership skills and economic empowerment in Nicaragua. In Uganda, Kenya, and Honduras we are part of a collaboration with the local chapters of International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), a network of independent organizations in 22 countries that aims to strengthen organizational the capacity and advocacy skills of women farmers.
In Uganda, the Rainforest Alliance is also working together with local actors, like the traders who lead farmer trainings. These trainings help men and women farmers alike look at roles and responsibilities and develop a vision for their families based on shared decision-making and equal income distribution. One of the tools, the Coffee Game, combines gender-equity training with good agricultural practices in a fun way.