Our learning journey towards improving gender equality

Our learning journey towards improving gender equality

It is the man who keeps the money. Also when buying inputs and getting loans, he’s
the one who does most of this activities. That is his responsibility. Women in our tradition
believe men should always lead them. That is the mentality we have actually made
women to believe over here in Ghana. For most of them the man says: “this is it and that is final.” The woman only has to comply or obey. The biggest gender issues we have is non-representation. Women have to double.. They do their household work. They do the farm work
and then the worst of it all, as much as they doing all this input they are
not able to get the returns from that coffee. The men are the ones who go for the
trainings, receive the money and also have the coffee, they are the coffee members. Sometimes I need to get up at 3 o’clock in the
morning, preparing breakfast for 10 persons. And then I need to wash and do the household work. All those things. Women’s roles are less visible than
men’s and therefore are less appreciated. When we were building capacity for the farmers to increase quality and productivity, often only the men were involved. Women farmers rarely see it as a strategic advantage
to be involved in production processing. The financial pressure is on me, the man. In our culture it’s said that the man is supposed to have money for the
entire family. In almost all societies, women and men have different roles and
responsibilities that are considered appropriate for them just because of their gender. A man’s role in agriculture is acknowledged, as is
his role as head of the household, income generator and administrator. While a woman’s role in agriculture often goes unnoticed even when
they are full-time farmers. This is why women are often not targeted by public and private agricultural services, like extension or credit
schemes. Moreover, women are hardly represented in farmer groups or worker unions. Also, within the households, it’s mostly men who lead
the family and take the decisions on topics like managing expenses. Besides working in the fields, women have many other tasks to fulfil –
like taking care of the children and making sure there is enough food, water and fuel. This uneven access to benefits, information, tasks and
decision making between men and women, often leads to ineffective agricultural production, uneven workload, and even conflicts. In 2016, the Rainforest Alliance began the Sector Partnership or SP
program, financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This program is active in nine different countries across the world within
the sectors of coffee, cocoa and tea. It aims to bring about sector wide change through addressing systemic issues. To make this happen,
our SP staff in the field build the capacity of local organizations. They also support them to advocate for changes in policies and
programs that make the sector more sustainable and more inclusive – especially for smallholders and female farmers or workers. One of the issues that the program is working on is gender equality.
The program aims to support processes towards equal rights, benefits, participation and access to resources and services for both male and
female farmers and workers. The Rainforest Alliance developed different approaches to strengthen
the knowledge and capacity of our staff and partner organizations on gender equality. Thus supporting them to critically reflect on their
own work, push for changes in attitude and behavior in the communities we work in, and put the topic on the agenda of policy makers. This is
the story of how our staff in SP countries and their partner organizations engaged in that learning journey. Our SP staff and
partners organized workshops and coaching processes in the field, trained trainers and strengthened women organizations. They did all of
this to bring about changes that others can use as an inspiration and as an example to promote structural improvements in the whole sector. Through the Sector Partnership we are trying to improve the
capacities of women but also the partners that are implementing projects in Central America. So the idea is to develop a workshop where we will
train our partners in some tools to address gender. The Rainforest Alliance partnered with AgriProfocus, a Dutch network
that cultivates collaboration between stakeholders to solve issues around sustainable value chains, agribusiness and gender. These
workshops were organized in four different countries around the world for our staff and their partner organizations. During these workshops
the roles, benefits and challenges for men and women working in agricultural value chains were analyzed – as well as the tools
required to do the analyses. Strategies were also discussed to address the challenges. These tools, analyses and strategies can be used to
improve the participants’ own programs and services and to show other stakeholders the inequalities in their sector and how to address them. The idea of the workshop is to ensure that the staff
involved in partner organizations and counterparts, of UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance can practice
with appropriate methodologies to… …a gender analysis in the coffee value chain. In this workshop, the implementers of the
Sector Partnership program are participating. Among them we have academic institutions,
NGO’s, producer associations. The coffee value chain of the
gender approach is going to be analysed. I think this aspect is not addressed
enough in the activities. The participants learn to use tools to analyze the role and benefits
of female and male farmers and workers in different parts of the value chain. The participants then go into the field to try out those tools
with female and male farmers, workers and service providers. This tool is called “analysis of benefits and
contributions of men and women in coffee quality”. The purpose of the tool is to visualize activities done
by a lesser or greater degree by men or women. It’s interesting to see the point of view or
perception of men… …compared to the perception of women, farm owners or wives of producers. What I liked most was to go to the field,
we learned by seeing the reality. Discussions take place on the respective perceptions of men and
women’s work and benefits. Women sometimes work more than we
do, because they get up at 3 or 4 in the morning. Women sometimes work more than we
do, because they get up at 3 or 4 in the morning. They are the last to go bed.
They go to the field to collect coffee and take care of the household. After the workshop, the participants take their action plans with them
and start their own gender analyses in the field. One of them, a Woman in Coffee Organization (AMUCAFE) joined the national coffee platform.
Here they are working hard to create more attention for the need of training, and access to markets for female coffee farmers. Their work
is getting attention. They were asked recently as a reference for the gender policy of the coffee sector of Honduras and also to draft a
gender policy for the Honduran coffee producers’ umbrella organization. The same workshop was organized in Indonesia to get a better
understanding of gender and gender issues in the cocoa sector. In the workshop, together with supply chain
actors we try to map out… …and observe how gender relations
are in the cocoa supply chain. People actively use the term,
they speak about gender… …but they don’t really understand what gender is. So during the workshop I really have a clear
understanding about gender… and there’s a definition about gender bias,
gender balance, gender equality. So it was very important. I became more confident in talking about gender
because I felt like what I thought was correct, what was gender balance, what was gender sensitive, was affirmed
during the workshop. Among the participants of the workshop are the cooperative KSS and the
Balinese organization Kalimajari that supports smallholders in more sustainable practices of cocoa production. They do this by advocating
for government policies that promote sustainable farming. The idea was that Kalimajari also
started to think that enabling environment is very important. There’s no use of working towards empowering the
women if the environment is not really conducive to have that kind of boost. This gender perspective issue is new to our government,
so it requires huge efforts to convince the government… …to have a dialogue about this issue. It cannot be
solved in just one dialogue or an official interview. Kalimajari had this great idea that we invited the
government officials during our workshop. After the workshop, Kalimajari shares the results of the workshop with
the government. They also take them to the field and discuss the difficulties that female farmers face. Their efforts result in
reserving a specific budget to improve conditions for female farmers – like targeted training – as part of the governmental programs and
projects. I think that gender related policies are indeed a priority
in relation to cocoa development in Jembrana. Women are considered only as supporters of their husbands,
but in the future we want to see these women… …to be in the forefront of the sustainable cocoa development
and empowerment programs in Jembrana. This is not an instant process. Their response was good, but it needs to be followed up with
communications and intensive lobbying and advocacy. It is Kalimajari’s commitment to maintain good communications
with the governments on regional and national level. Kalimajari also trained the smallholder farmers and then it continues on like a domino
effect. In my experience, we must not see women
as incompetent, especially in growing cocoa. It turns out if we have the knowledge, we can do it ourselves. Even though we’re not allowed. If we know how to do it, we can just go alone. Automatically, it will produce more yield and it’s not because of my husband. Because we have the knowledge, we can no longer be considered as stupid. With the knowledge we received, we can practice it in the field. Now they understand that this is a shared task between both genders,
and not only the task of male farmers. They understand their part of the task and that if they don’t do their part,
productivity will never be improved. What I learned from the gender training is to increase
the motivation of men and women to work together. In the field and in their family. They must go in one direction. What we have seen so far is that
the benefits are tremendous. The women are now active in the process on the farm,
and outside the farm in other activities within the cooperative. We have seen the improvement in terms of quality of fermentation. In the past, only men knew about fermentation but now
women also know about quality fermentation. The cooperative, actually a month
from that workshop… …they have changed their regulations that women headed households can access the services, can access the subsidy, can have extension workers
help them in their farms. All these achievements are the result of the collaboration with
UTZ and Kalimajari within the cocoa sector in Jembrana. On the basis of the workshop and it’s follow up – changes are showing
in the way that gender is addressed by the government, cooperatives and trainers. However, continuous follow up is needed to bring about
changes that last. Maurice, a Rainforest Alliance colleague based in Ghana, followed
another gender in value chain workshop in Africa. We believe that, when you are a male, there are certain things you cannot do. And then in the household… We are just boys, I don’t have a sister. We are all boys and my mom
has to do everything in the household. Now from the training I realize that we can also do certain things to help her. She is just one person. We live in a big house. She can’t handle all activities alone. She has to cook, she has to clean… ..what are we doing? We don’t do anything. After the workshop, Maurice started to address gender in his trainings
of farmer cooperatives. One of these is Kookoopa, a cooperative that already puts a lot of effort in mainstreaming gender in their
organization and sustainable agricultural practices. We have a lot of members and they also have a lot
of farmers. We cannot reach all these farmers individually or even
as a group. So what we do, we also train the technical
officers and those responsible for gender… …who intend train these farmers in various communities. We go through the training materials so that they can deliver at the farmer level. What I would like to see in our communities, I expect
both male and female to share all the responsibilities. Except for the inequality in tasks, workload and access to training
and services between men and women, other issues also affect the household and agricultural production. The effect of violence against
women on agricultural production… …because usually the men are the perpetrators… …and the women are victims. So if a man has beaten the wife… then in the morning either she will be late in going to
the farm to work or she may not go. And even if she’s able to go to the farm… …because she has headaches or swollen face… …she’ll be working slowly, it affects work. Continously we receive trainings on awareness on gender equality. We believe the current and future members… …both male and female will be equal. It’s a gradual process for those communities who
have received training. You see some changes. I wouldn’t say a hundred percent. But we are happy about the fact that we see some changes. When we come back from the farm I will be in the kitchen cooking food
because normally we come back late. When I’m peeling the cocoyam… …then my husband is supporting me by peeling the cassava. When the kids are not around, he supports with pounding the fufu. He helps me a lot. Sometimes a man and a wife fight and when you ask them, When we gather the cocoa from the drying mats, we sell it in our house. When I count the money I give it to her to recount it. This is the same money
we use to take care of the kids in school, that is how we work together. What is happening in my household is not common in this community. In my household there’s fairness and transparency. Awareness raising, discussions and trainings on gender equality are
slowly leading to the first changes, not only within farmer organizations but also within the household. Better communication
between husband and wife about income spending and a better division of tasks leads to more peace in the household and a more balanced
workload between women and men. Processes of change on the ground with farmers, trainers and
government officials have been initiated or reinforced by enabling staff, local organizations and cooperatives to learn about gender
issues in the value chain. We learnt that it is important to adjust the tools to analyse gender in agriculture to the local contexts.
Plenty of time should be planned for experimenting with these tools in the field and to discuss these experiences. We learned that coaching
from a distance does not work well, these processes need to be closely monitored by local experts. Working towards gender equality is a
process that requires time and dedication. These processes also need to be strengthened by sharing best practices so that others can
benefit. In Côte d’Ivoire local Rainforest Alliance staff hired a gender coach
to support them and the Associated Trainers Network (ATN) in integrating gender in their work with partner organizations and farmer
cooperatives. We have a network of associated trainers who
are in charge of training groups of producers. In this context we organized a training with madam Sylla, the Gender coach. The training was about reinforcing their knowledge about
gender equality and women empowerment And we showed them some analysis tools to see the reality
of gender
in the cooperatives in Cocoa in a general way. As Associated Trainer I was not
focussing my activities on gender before. After the training in Abidjan, I started including the topic gender a lot. So while doing any training, we take the opportunity to talk about gender. Even during training about good agricultural practices for example,
we take gender into account. After the trainings with the gender coach, the participants
incorporate the learnings in their work, in their trainings and have moments of reflection with the gender coach to receive feedback on
their experiences. Several technical assistants started to train on gender. This has already led to changes in the households. I was used to take decisions alone. After the training I decided to forget some
things from the past and collaborate. Kouassi Akissi Bénédicte joined the Farmer Field school first, told
her husband what she learned and motivated him to join as well. I started giving him feedback
about what we learned there. I told him that we have to work together and support each other. From this time, he has started to change and take care of the baby. When we are going to the farm, he carries the baby for example,
and he was not doing that before. Many people say that I’m silly because I help my wife, but I don’t care about this, but it’s not easy. Sometimes when I bathe the baby,
my friends make fun of me. They say: “Why are you bathing the baby when your wife is here?” Sometimes I carry firewood from the farm, but I dont bring it home to avoid that people make fun of me. There are some men who started carrying goods, but they carry it only to the border
of the village and then go home. Then the women collect the goods. For us, this is already a change. A change is never won in advance.
If it happens too fast it might not last. So we really need to be with those who are doing
important work in the field like Caboz (a trader in sustainable Cocoa). They need to be followed and we need to document what they do. After this training on gender there was a lot of feedback from the field. The first feedback was about the gender training of the group. It’s a little harder to do than a training on productivity or premium… …because producer groups or coorperative leaders have
less interest in the topic of gender compared to other themes. I said: Yes, these are habits that people
have and they are not going to change overnight. We should explain the advantages about focusing on gender,
rather than imposing it on them. If we see small changes we can have great results. Now we take all our decisions together. We live in a peaceful environment now. That is why I say that we get benefits
from this way of living. Working with a gender coach can bring about important changes. New
ways of working can be experimented with in a safe environment, and experiences shared with colleagues. We have seen that it is important
to give the opportunity to staff and partner organizations to experiment with gender. As well as letting them develop trainings and
other activities that focus on gender from their point of view. It’s also been proven to be important to ensure that the role of the gender
coach is acknowledged by all actors involved. In this way the gender coach is involved at key moments and has the mandate to follow up more
closely and intensively with them in the field. Continuous moments of reflection and feedback in the working environment are so important
because the promotion of gender equality requires changes in attitude and ways of working, which might create resistance. After the money came, the women never
used to to see the men home. They used to disappear. Drink all the money or eat all the money. By the time they come back home, there is no money. If you are talking about weeding. If you’re talking of harvesting, it’s all women
that are doing these activities. But they are less involved in decision making. So we need to empower them, so that they
can be involved in decision making, to have opportunities to sit in management levels in
their cooperatives. We have to think how to address the social
norms and values that discriminate against women. And this requires a lot of advocacy work because
changing these social norms and values take… …a lot of time. That’s why we think it is important to work
with the Association of Women in Coffee… …as it can be a strong voice for the women in
coffee. The Association of Women in Coffee (AWIC) in Kenya represents women in
the coffee sectors. The women range from farmers to entrepreneurs, and AWIC aims to strengthen their position. The Rainforest Alliance
partnered with AWIC to support them in this process to become an organization that is able to advocate for better opportunities for its
members with relevant actors, such as local and national government, coffee authorities, sector platforms and industry fora. In Kenya we have a constitution that allows for
land law gender representation in all areas… …including the cooperatives. These women don’t have that information, so
they need to be sensitized. They also need to be trained to acquire the leadership skills and… …the good agricultural practices skills so that they are able to stand on their position, because we believe information is power. AWIC has helped us interact with other women. It always invites us for training, where we network
with other women and learn what they are doing. In these trainings we get to know how the
value chain goes and also it trains us on the coffee calendars. So we are able to know what to do with our farms
better. Rainforest Alliance staff have accompanied AWIC in different ways
during their process of becoming stronger and more inclusive. First and foremost, we looked for a good
consultant to help AWIC, in this process of reviewing the strategic planning, reviewing the constitution. The other one is engaging the stakeholders to
support AWIC. So this linkage with stakeholders including the
government organizations. If you talk of the coffee directorate, you talk of
the presidential task force. All these organizations we brought together
to support AWIC. In my vision AWIC is that institution that
expands your options as a woman. You walk in there, you can get your loan, you can
get a market, you can get trained. We said, let there be a revolution through AWIC. We said: as women, we can revive this coffee sector, as women
we can make coffee grow again. As women we can make coffee a financial stability in the home. As women we can make coffee a financial stability in the home. We will be able even to buy cars instead of
carrying this coffee to the factories with our backs. We shall be using cars. Now women farmers have very high expectations.
Not only the women but also the government organization. Since AWIC is being invited to sit in these
various forums it means stakeholders also have… …their own expectations.
AWIC has a lot of work now, because they have to meet the needs of female farmers,
cooperatives, government and stakeholders. Slowly, things are changing for AWIC and its members. Expectations are
high and AWIC cannot fulfill them all working on its own. AWIC needs to build an even stronger and more representative organization. And,
also create allies to increase their impact and together press for better access to inputs and resources for female coffee farmers
through gender sensitive governmental policies and programs. Through the Sector Partnerships program, we have embarked in a journey
to start or support change processes towards more equal opportunities for men and women in the cocoa, coffee and tea sectors. Workshops
combining theory and practice, training of trainers, coaching processes and capacity building of women organizations were all part
of our strategy and have all played their part. We see changes occurring. Rainforest Alliance staff and external trainers feel more
confident in speaking out about gender issues, in integrating it in their trainings and daily work, and in doing things differently in
their lives. This has impact at the local level and results in changing attitudes and behaviors of individual farmers. Cooperatives
have revised their policies and practices, to actively include female farmers. Resulting in changes that touch the lives of many men and
women. Advocacy at a local level can also trigger support from local
champions, local leaders, local authorities and companies, making the impact even bigger. At a national level, the Rainforest Alliance
supports organizations that advocate to integrate gender issues in the policy agenda. This can lead to an increased access to opportunities
for women and the institutionalization of equal opportunities. While we see some changes taking place, there are still many challenges and
things that can be done better. Therefore, it is important to learn from our experiences in order to improve. We can share our learnings,
follow up on actions and link to relevant actors, to achieve a greater impact and make gender equality a relevant issue for all. Both men and
women need to work on this. Because gender equality relates to us all.

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