Four African Women Who are Changing the Face of Coffee
Photo by Karen Castillo Farfan/NPR
If you're a coffee drinker, chances are the cup of java you drank this morning was made from beans that were produced or harvested by women. Women's handprints can be found at every point in coffee production.
In fact, on family-owned coffee farms in Africa, about 70 percent of maintenance and harvesting work is done by women, according to an analysis by the International Trade Centre, but only rarely do women own the land or have financial control.
We sat down recently with four African women on the cusp of change who were on a trip to Washington, D.C., sponsored jointly by the IWCA and the International Trade Centre's Women in Coffee Project. Here are their stories, in brief.
Angele Ciza of Burundi is ahead of her time; she owns the land she farms on. Her 10-hectare (24.7 acre) coffee plantation in the northern part of the country has some 26,000 trees producing Arabica coffee, and she's also purchased seven washing stations (part of the coffee processing procedure). She's employing about 100 women, and she also helps pay school fees for the children of her employees.
"We work very, very hard," says Ciza. Her vision for lifting more people out of poverty in her region is clear. "If you want to develop Burundi, you develop the women," she says.