Partnership for Gender Equity

It has been estimated that if women farmers across the developing world had the same access to productive inputs as male farmers (such as labor, fertilizer, and seeds), yields would increase as much as 30 percent per household. As a result, countries could see an increase of 2.5 to 4 percent in agricultural output (FAO 2011). Ignoring gender equity is a missed business opportunity. The global coffee industry can no longer afford to let the significant capabilities of women go to waste as we try to resolve the monumental global challenges that threaten to disrupt the supply of quality coffee upon which our businesses thrive. The coffee industry is currently experiencing multiple crises, all of which require ‘all hands on deck’ to resolve. Climate change, aging tree stocks, food insecurity and lack of investment in education, among other issues, severely threaten the future of coffee production; and for many young people from coffee farming communities, coffee simply isn’t seen as a viable path to a successful future. Engaging the full capabilities of both women and men in coffee producing communities and throughout the value chain will help to ensure a sustainable coffee future.

What We’re Doing
Building Vibrant Communities through Gender Equity

At CQI, we believe that vibrant farming communities – where everyone is contributing to their potential – will produce better coffee and more of it, which is good for the entire coffee industry.  We also recognize our industry’s formidable capacity to harness the power of collective action.  To address this opportunity, CQI is spearheading a collaborative initiative, the Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE), to determine how industry can actively support gender equity to impact the quality of producers’ lives and the sustainable supply of quality coffee.

The goals of this project are to influence CQI’s own strategic approach to development programming and to guide industry best practice to support gender equity within supply chains – ultimately leading to real, measurable results. Through an ‘action learning’ process the initiative will not only build upon insight gained in past research and development projects, but will advance our knowledge by taking action, reflecting on results and iterating to improve and broaden impact.

PGE is a multi-stage initiative:

Stage 1 (Through September 2015): Begin with research and discovery to identify key issues and opportunities (via four workshops), and secure industry support. Lear more about how to get involved and read our gender report, The Way Forward.

Stage 2 (2015-2016): Apply lessons learned to develop strategy and carry out pilot projects with partners in stakeholder communities; and,

Stage 3 (2016 onward): Scale up from pilot projects, utilizing the best tactics identified for addressing inequality in coffee value chains to improve supply outcomes.


  • Why gender at CQI?

    There is ample evidence of the importance of gender awareness to optimize agricultural development program outcomes.  For this reason, most development funding today requires a gender component.  At CQI, we recognize that our organization needs to integrate gender equity more strategically in our development work, and that there is also a need to do so in other coffee industry sustainability initiatives. We must ensure that we have a well-informed, strategic approach to gender that supports our mission to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it.

  • What do you mean by partnership?

    We have learned that there is a desire within the industry to better understand the link between quality and gender equity and to invest in programs that could have a favorable impact on coffee producing communities.  Our plan is to develop a shared approach to gender equity informed by the experiences of private sector businesses and development agencies working in other agricultural sectors, as well as by work already being done in coffee.  This collaborative approach will provide a framework for numerous actors in the coffee chain to invest, partner and otherwise engage to support progress toward shared metrics and outcomes.

  • How can I be involved?

    Anyone can participate in the gender workshops.  We are also looking for partners who can support this initiative financially and provide input and experience to assure we are addressing the right issues and producing practical strategies and tactics.  Anyone can join a focus group in person or via teleconference.

  • Who is involved?

    Our current business and development partners include foundational partners ACDI/VOCA, AMFOTEK, Falcon Coffees and Mars Drinks, and sustaining partners Equal Exchange, Blue Bottle Coffee and Farmer Brothers.  CQI is actively engaging with additional potential partners and will make announcements periodically as these partnerships crystallize.  At this time, we are inviting participants and support for the remaining workshop in Indonesia in May 2015. We expect more organizations to become involved as we begin to implement pilots and programs on the ground, including coffee related organizations such as IWCA and Grounds for Health, standards organizations, private sector businesses, and other development related NGOs such as Root Capital and Progreso Foundation. Between April and June, CQI will host a series of focus groups to engage a broader range of input from industry and development actors.  Four ‘in-person’ focus groups will be held at the 2015 SCAA, others will be held via-teleconference.  We will continue to seek your involvement as we move forward.

  • How do I find out more?

    Registration for the upcoming workshop in Indonesia is open. Details about the partnership options can be found here.  Additionally, the Partnership for Gender Equity will be sharing project details with the industry at the upcoming 2015 NCA. ICO and SCAA conferences.

  • What are the workshops all about?

    Using a modified version of the Gender Action Learning System (GALS), which has been applied in various agricultural communities with excellent results, the workshops are highly participatory, in-depth, professionally facilitated sessions that explore the context of gender in coffee producing communities and throughout the coffee value chain.  Participants in each workshop include men and women coffee producers from the host country, as well as international industry members.  The workshops delve into key questions about the opportunities and challenges related to gender equity within producer communities, including the linkages between quality and gender, and reveal potential solutions to inform the Roadmap for Industry Engagement.

  • What is GALS?

    The Gender Action Learning System (GALS) for gender-sensitive value chain development was originally piloted in Uganda. GALS consists of a series of simple, pro-poor, visual diagrams used by a team of trained facilitators to help women and men farmers critically reflect together on their livelihoods and identify the changes that need to be pushed forward in different spheres of their life — at the household, community and market levels — in order to increase production and income.