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Women in Coffee Part II: A Quiet, Peaceful Revolution

Kelle Vandenberg

By Kelle Vandenberg

Women are assuming more leading roles in the world of coffee, but there are still many challenges for them to overcome. Part II of our continuing series on women in coffee focuses on women from El Salvador, the Philippines and Burundi who are innovating, teaching and giving back to their communities and the impact this is having on the farms and communities. Once again, the article is in their voices, in their words.

Within the world of coffee, women are taking more predominate roles in all aspects of the industry. In both consuming countries and in producing countries, women hold key positions of power, are leaders within their communities, and lend their voice to policies that affect their world.

I have heard the term “quiet revolution” used to describe the changing role women play within the coffee industry. The gender gap remains a real and true divide. Through the voices of the Women in Coffee, you begin to understand the challenges that women must overcome.

To quote my friend Lucia Abrego De Ortiz, a fourth-generation coffee producer (Las Mercedes Farm), El Salvador, “I think there are a lot of amazing women…the coffee business always used to be handled by men, but because of destiny or times, now more women are in charge of farms, as producers, and are getting involved in all facets of the coffee chain.”

The coffee industry has compounded challenges ahead with the rust outbreak affecting 53 percent of all coffee grown in the world, in all regions, per the International Coffee Organization, London, and the rising global temperatures affecting coffee yield worldwide, which is reducing overall coffee production.

It will take innovation and diversification to stabilize the coffee crisis. I believe that women are coming into larger roles in coffee due to the “changing times” allowing diversification of ideas, practices, and policy. The expanding role of women in coffee impacts directly the livelihood of their immediate community. Women, statistically, keep the money local, share their knowledge, and give back to their community. We see this happening all over the world, in every level of economic situations.

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