OCTOBER 15th: Author Kevin Pasman
October is women's history month in Canada, so now is a good time to talk about a project we care deeply about here at Mill Town Coffee Roasters.
You may have noticed we go out of our way to find coffee produced by women and to make sure you know who your coffee is coming from. But why do we care about that? Because gender inequality is a big problem in the world, and it hurts everyone.
Most of the coffee in the world comes from less-developed regions where women have fewer rights than we do in Canada. Some countries have laws that require a woman to have permission from her husband to run a business, while others do not allow women to own land. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) in 2015 reported that only between 3 and 20% of all land that grows coffee is owned by women. On top of that women face gender prejudice that keeps them in the manual labour jobs while men run the business, make the decisions and receive the profits. In fact, women actually do more of the labour on a typical coffee farm (picking and sorting coffee) than men do, while having little control over the money earned.
We can help to fix this problem by supporting the women in coffee regions who own or manage farms, cooperative farm groups, coffee processing mills and importing/exporting companies. When given access to money, women are significantly more likely to re-invest that money into their communities. They support more healthcare, they support more education, they support more local infrastructure like bridges and wells, they support more household improvements. Women producers are much more likely to hire, promote and support other women in their own company and other companies in the community. This support helps not only other women in their community but the community as a whole. Communities with women-run councils or co-operatives have stronger local economies and a higher standard of living.