Hosted by the ICO, “International Coffee Day is a global celebration of coffee’s long journey from the farm to your local shop — an opportunity to honor the women and men who grow and harvest the coffee we love.”
The seventy-seven member states of the ICO selected “Women in Coffee” as the theme for this year’s International Coffee Day.
By IWCA Co-Founders Melissa Pugash and Margaret Swallow
This is a year in which businesses and nonprofits are reviewing and reimagining the roles that women play within their organizations. As co-founders, we’re pleased that the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) was a pioneer in bringing the role of women in our industry into the national and global spotlight.
Why International Women’s Day matters to the coffee industry
Women are essential to the coffee supply chain – but too often their contributions go unrecognized and unrewarded. Disenfranchisement and gender inequity are perpetuated through a myriad of economic, systemic, and cultural issues (from the insidious to the overt).
In coffee, the women who perform much of the labor – up to 70%, according to the ITC’s Coffee Exporters’ Guide – to grow, harvest, process, and export coffee are all too often invisible.
Few organizations are focused on collecting or publishing data specifically on the women involved in the supply chain for commodities like coffee; and there has been little to no funding allocated to this task. Even in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producing country, the lack of data makes one believe that women do not exist.
Experts agree that women are the greatest untapped resource available to avert challenges to the global coffee industry. But the lack of data on women makes it impossible to understand their impact in the value chain. This leads to under-performance in the coffee industry, much like how poor recognition of contributions in any industry can cause lagging productivity.