Sustainable cocoa and coffee

Honduras: The first country to approve a policy on gender equality for the coffee sector

April 8, 2021
Natalia Palomino
Comunicación y gestión de fondos | Perú y Ecuador
Napoleón Molina
Sustainable Cocoa and Coffee programme director in Latin America | Regional director

Not much has been written about the relationship between gender equality and coffee. The SCAA report on "Gender Equality in the Coffeelands" (2015) highlights that women in the chain often face a "double burden". Women producers, in particular, work both on the farm and in the household for a total of 15 hours a day: almost twice as long as their male counterparts.

The coffee sector in Honduras represents 3.27% of the Gross National Product (GNP) and 31.69% of the agricultural GDP in 2019 (Central Bank of Honduras, 2019). The number of women producers who participate in this success is estimated at 24 858, distributed across 16 departments and 221 municipalities, according to IHCAFÉ (2019). The role of women is essential in production, particularly during the bean collection and selection season, and has now started to play an important role in Cupping and Barismo.

With a view to the sustainability of the sector, and even though women account for only 20% of the registered workforce, it is important to have policies that allow their inclusion and create better opportunities for them to participate in the chain in the future. For this reason, a Gender Policy for the sector was recently approved by the plenary of the National Coffee Council - CONACAFÉ, which is chaired by the President of the Republic.

This policy, the first such policy adopted by a coffee-producing country for its sector, was formulated in a participatory way with a focus on youth, is integrated into the existing national coffee policy, and promotes inclusion, equality and generational succession in the coffee sub-sector in Honduras. The participatory process was led by CONACAFÉ with the technical and financial support of Solidaridad Network and Rikolto.

Increasing inclusion in the Honduran coffee sector

The new gender policy has four pillars:

  1. Strengthening coffee institutions and organisations in addressing social and gender inclusion.
  2. Increasing and improving access to services and resources for women and youth in the sector.
  3. Developing and strengthening the leadership capacity of women and youth working in the sector.
  4. Integratinge key actors and partnerships into the conversation on gender and social inclusion issues, to create awareness, coordinate actions and promote change.

Bridging the gap for women, with the involvement of the women's sector

To develop this sectoral policy, CONACAFÉ and the coffee institutions partnered with Solidaridad Network and Rikolto. The process started by analysing the coffee and agricultural context and the existing regulatory framework, and continued with a consultation process with all actors in the coffee agro-industrial chain and multiple sectors to formulate a proposal with a comprehensive and broad approach to gender and youth issues.

This is how the institutional structure of the coffee sector in Honduras stands.

Stakeholders the Honduras chapter of the International Alliance of Women in Coffee (Amucafe) and the Honduran Coffee Institute played a fundamental role throughout the process, providing valuable information to nurture the policy. Other key partners included associations of coffee farmers, coffee exporters and roasters, as well as governmental, municipal and local actors such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG), the Ministry of Finance (Sefin), the National Women's Institute (INAM), coffee cooperatives and, members of municipal corporations, among others.

Delmi Regalado, from the Honduras chapter of IWCA, and one of the participants in the process, argued that the policy benefits women on multiple levels: "(the policy) facilitates their active participation in government bodies (...) The expectations we have are to improve access to differentiated markets, and access to land for women, which generates better opportunities to increase their income..."..”

In the last quarter of 2020, the final draft was subjected to a rigorous review by 35 organisations and institutions, with the advice of specialists in the field, including members of the International Cooperation and representatives of the Executive, Judicial and Legislative Branches. Participants voted unanimously to approve the policy, recognising that gender, generational bridging and social inclusion are key to the sustainable development of the coffee value chain and integral to certification processes for producers and exporters.

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A long- term process

Since 2019, Rikolto, Conacafé and Solidaridad have had a co-financing agreement to make this policy a reality. The idea emerged from the review of the 'Alliance for Gender Equality' study conducted by the Coffee Quality Institute, which analysed gender equality and inclusion throughout the value chain. The results presented in December 2018 at the Global Coffee Platform prompted the Honduran coffee sector to request support for its implementation.

Napoleón Molina, Rikolto's project coordinator in Honduras, said: ‘'The Honduran Sustainable Coffee Platform was a key space for the synergy between Rikolto, Conacafé and Solidaridad, which led to the formulation of the gender policy."

"We are confident that the platform will play a key role in its implementation as well, because it requires the involvement of all stakeholders in the sector," said Molina.

Lastly, Nelson Omar Funez, secretary of Conacafé, said that the implementation of the policy will be the responsibility of the sector's institutions in charge of carrying out the national coffee policy in alliance with specialised organisations such as Amucafé, INAM and others.

“The Council (of Conacafé) will follow up, monitor and evaluate the action plans defined to achieve the changes proposed at the level of gender equality and inclusion and generational linking,” said Funez.

On 18 February at the first ordinary session of 2021, the Coffee Sector Gender Policy was presented and approved by the plenary of Conacafé. With the participation of the public and private coffee sector, represented by organisations of producers, exporters and roasters, it is hoped that this decision will allow the continuing strategic promotion of the inclusion of women and young people for the sustainable development of coffee growing in the country.

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