Coffee Kids participated in the 5th Annual International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) Convention last month in Puebla, Mexico. Our Rural Business Workshops are comprised of 50% young female farmers and we are proud to see gender balance in our program. The aim of attending the conference was to stay abreast of the dialogue on strategies to address the unique challenges faced by women in the coffee value chain. Many challenges for female farmers are parallel to challenges for youth in coffee, especially for our young women:

  • Lack of self-confidence, leadership, voice, connection to the wider local and regional community
  • Lack of access to land, finance, training, and organizational capacity
  • Disconnection from politics and other parts of the coffee value chain

 

IWCA is focused on the goal of empowering women throughout the coffee chain and building solutions around these challenges through a growing network of national chapters, currently numbering 25. As part of our commitment to gender inclusion, Coffee Kids took part in a panel discussion focused on finding ways to encourage mentorship and networking to expand the capacity of women to influence and change the mentality within their spheres of influence. For example, the IWCA governing body can focus on engaging high-level stakeholders and working across commodity chains to elevate the role of women across agricultural systems. At the same time, chapter leaders can work within their local and regional political systems to specifically address the country-specific challenges and raise the collective voice of their membership. And perhaps most importantly, individual female producers can organize within their families and local community to develop the support systems needed for female producers to succeed.

Additionally, the panel emphasized the need to begin engagement with young farmers. Focusing on gender equity with youth ensures the younger generations’ exhibit an inclusive mentality around the role of women and men in our society. At Coffee Kids we strive to incorporate lessons for our youth from the gender programs of our parent organization . One specific project of the Neumann Foundation was a highlight of the IWCA convention. Two of our staff members in Guatemala created and presented on a manual detailing the process to establish revolving microcredit funds for women in coffee communities. The workshops on this manual were full with many participants interested in learning and sharing ways to encourage small loans for women in their respective communities.

Overall, the conference was an opportunity to meet and learn from many amazing women in our field. It also reinvigorated us to continue working toward gender inclusion in our organization and our programs.

Check out photos from the conference on our Instagram feed.