WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? I happened to attend the Coffee Fair Trade held in February 2014 which was a National Conference for Stakeholders and Exhibition at the Coffee Research Foundation of Kenya. Oh my! The event was so big, but sadly there were only a few accountable young women present. One would just wonder why this kind of discrimination. Female attendance in exhibition, trainings, conferences have been very minimal. But let me point out something important: the people who receive training may necessary not be in a position to implement the skills they acquire in these trainings. Why? Because they aren't involved in the primary processes and farm level maintenance. And again, young women who are energetic and innovative are rarely involved in coffee production along the value chain. Therefore there is an urgent need to bring up more women as we empower those who are currently in our industry.
OUR COFFEE Kenyan coffee is widely recognized for its full body, acidity and flavor fetching good price around the globe. A part from the favorable geographical conditions – thanks to the deep red volcanic soil - several women have contributed to this success through good agricultural practices. It is the role of women to carefully hand-pick ripe cherries during harvest as well as pruning and handling the manure application and at the same time, take good care of their family members. Although women contribution is HIGH, the reward is ironically LOW! They find minimal support from their community. Very few women own land. While those who have the farms only inherited them from the family lineage.
FILLING THE GAP There are a number of women who already have been steering the positions in governmental and non-governmental organizations. Friends, experience doesn't matter. What really matters is how you interpret and react to experiences. All experiences are neutral. I am pretty sure that the scenario in our industry will only be changed by how we view issues.
THE QUITE CONFIDENCE Yes! As mentioned earlier, we have what it takes. We only need to conquer some few elements which have dragged women behind, to make this industry a successful one. I believe that we are well capable.
It takes our determination to conquer fear, take the risk since whether things are in a serious state or not, it isn't always easy to initiate change unless we make a choice! We should make a choice to change!