Empowering female coffee growers

Empowering female coffee growers can help improve gender equality.

By Amy Barthorpe, Head of Business Development. 

“The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world” – Charles Malik

Women make a huge contribution in the production of coffee. But despite female coffee growers doing roughly 60-80% of the labour, their work is often overlooked. This is why empowering female coffee growers is so important.

Gender inequalities still dominate the lives of female farmers. Often they have restricted access to land and finance, or are excluded from important discussions. 

Regardless of the nature of gender inequality, many businesses and NGOs are aware of the challenges faced by women and are taking steps to empower them. Here we will look at the role that technology (specifically with WeFarm) can play in empowering female coffee growers. With over 70,000 farmers using our technology to share information, we would like to share our findings with you.

Empowering female coffee growers with information

At WeFarm we believe that information is an incredibly powerful tool for empowering female coffee growers. Our SMS network enables farmers to connect with other farmers around the world. Once they have joined our network they can share farming expertise with one another. With access to timely and tailored information, female coffee growers can farm more efficiently. In addition to this they can learn new skills, and implement changes on their farm.

Information can also help female farmers start a microbusiness to generate additional income. With a knowledge platform like WeFarm, female farmers are empowered to voice their problems and seek out the information that they really need. Female farmers can learn about the things that will be most beneficial to their livelihoods. Then women can improve the livelihoods of their entire family (as much research has demonstrated that when women are put in charge of household finances they reinvest profit).

Building confidence and creating a network

Another positive impact of providing women with a network through technology is that it increases their confidence. We have found that giving women a platform to share their opinions impacts how women view themselves. Just by demonstrating that their opinion is valuable is incredibly powerful! Where women might be excluded from discussions in the house, farm or co-operatives, on WeFarm they are actively asked for their opinions.

WeFarm also enables women to be part of a large network, but because we can share questions and tips with particular groups, such as women, we could empower women to share specific issues relating to them, with the wider group of women using WeFarm. Creating a space for women to discuss their needs helps women to feel supported and valued in society.

The importance of data in empowering female coffee growers

Our technology results in millions of messages being shared between male and female coffee farmers. As we analyse this data in real-time, we can provide unique insights into the challenges facing female coffee growers, and in what areas they require support.

WeFarm helps businesses and NGOs to identify issues for women which then makes it possible to provide tailored responses. For example, recently we discovered in our data that female coffee growers in Uganda are much more likely to request information on diseases than men. With information like this organisations can provide real value in training sessions for female farmers.

Finally we can gain insight into the complexities across different regions/ countries in the world. For example, analysing the biggest concerns for female coffee growers in Uganda compared to female coffee farmers in Kenya. We discovered that for female coffee growers in Kenya, topics related to planting and seeds were discussed 7 times more than amongst female coffee growers in Uganda.

As you can see, empowering female coffee growers with information helps them to increase confidence, gain skills, and improve their livelihoods. At the same time, businesses and NGOs can gain unique insight into the real challenges facing female farmers. With a technology platform like WeFarm, empowering female coffee growers can become a reality.

For more information on how WeFarm technology could help empower your female coffee growers, or other female producers, please contact Amy by email on amy@wefarm.org. 

Posted 25 July 2016 | Tagged with: , , , , , , ,