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Empowering African Women in the Coffee Sector: Fostering Growth, Equality, and Sustainability

An international scientific conference was being held in Yaoundé on the practical approach to adapting cocoa and coffee cultivation to climate change. The conference was organized by the Interprofessional Council of Cocoa and Coffee (CICC), a member of ACRAM, in partnership with the Cameroonian government. During this event, the topic of gender and empowering women was discussed.

In recent years, an empowering shift has been underway within the African coffee sector, where women are increasingly playing a pivotal role. As the continent’s coffee industry continues to expand and gain global recognition, it is crucial to acknowledge the vital contributions of African women and explore ways to further empower them.

Challenges Faced by African Women in the Coffee Sector:

1. Limited access to resources: Women in the coffee sector often face significant barriers to accessing land, capital, and technology. This hinders their ability to invest in their farms, improve productivity, and access higher-value markets.

2. Gender-based discrimination: Traditional gender roles and biases prevent women from fully participating in decision-making processes, limiting their opportunities for leadership and ownership within the industry.

3. Lack of training and education: Limited access to training and education opportunities prevents women from acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to maximize their productivity, quality, and income potential.

4. Unequal payment and market access: Women frequently receive lower wages than their male counterparts for their coffee produce, while facing challenges in accessing fair and transparent markets.

Statistics on Women’s Contribution in the Coffee Sector:

1. According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), women contribute to nearly 70% of the labor in coffee production in Africa.

2. A study by the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) revealed that women’s participation in the African coffee value chain ranges from 40% to 70%, depending on the country.

3. Despite their significant contributions, women often earn only 10% of the income generated from coffee sales, as reported by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

During the panel, a few recommendations were made:

1. Enhancing access to resources: Governments, NGOs, and international organizations should work together to provide women with land ownership rights, financial services, and improved access to technology, equipment, and inputs.

2. Promoting gender equality and women’s leadership: Stakeholders should advocate for policies that encourage equal participation of women in decision-making processes, leadership roles, and ownership positions within the coffee sector.

3. Investing in training and education: Initiatives should be launched to provide training programs, workshops, and educational opportunities that empower women with the knowledge and skills needed to enhance productivity, quality, and business management.

4. Ensuring fair payment and market access: Transparent pricing mechanisms, fair trade certifications, and support for women-led cooperatives can help women secure fair prices for their coffee, access premium markets, and enhance their bargaining power.

The empowerment of African women in the coffee sector is not only a matter of social justice but also a strategic imperative for sustainable economic development. ACRAM, the International Trade Center as well as other partners are actively addressing the challenges faced by women in accessing resources. It is a shared belief that by achieving gender equality, and promoting fair market practices, we can unleash the full potential of African women, leading to increased productivity, better livelihoods, and a more inclusive and sustainable coffee industry in Africa. It is high time that all stakeholders collaborate to create an enabling environment that empowers women in the coffee sector, fostering growth, equality, and long-term sustainability.

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