Salt Spring Coffee co-founder Mickey McLeod and Kimberly Easson of the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) met in Seattle in 2016 to co-host an event on gender equity in coffee called “Gender Equity at Source.”
Those who attended learned more about the CQI’s Partnership for Gender Equity, including the program’s vision and preliminary research findings. They also had a chance to taste two coffees from Uganda’s Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative, sourced and roasted by Salt Spring Coffee. Industry members were invited to stay on for an in-depth Q&A, a discussion about the partnership’s next phase, and an opportunity to comment on initial Gender Equity Principles for coffee.
An eye-opening trip to Uganda
Mickey has known Kimberly for a while and crossed paths with her in 2015, at a gender workshop she organized with coffee producers in MBale, Uganda.
“I had been aware of the inequality and separation between the sexes in farming for quite some time, but a recent trip to Uganda really opened my eyes,” reveals Mickey. “My ‘a-ha moment’ came during a particularly intense discussion regarding domestic violence. The women were seeking behavioural changes in their spouses—and the men who spoke were equally as eager to make those changes.”
What Salt Spring Coffee is doing
“Gender equity, fairness to farmers and sustainability are all inextricably linked for me,” explains Mickey. “How can you preach environmental sustainability without also talking about fair wages and gender equity?” At Salt Spring Coffee, we support our farm partners—and gender equity—in three keys ways:
- Fair to Farmer: Through our Fair To Farmer program, we build direct partnerships with coffee producers. Our IMO Fair for Life certification ensures that human rights are respected at every stage of production and that workers enjoy good and equitable working conditions.
- 1% for the Planet: As part of our 1% for the Planet commitment, we donate at least 1 percent of all revenue to projects and organizations that are working toward a truly sustainable planet. That includes projects with our coffee partners around the world.
- Gender Action Learning System: We are proponents of the Gender Action Learning System (GALS), a process that uses dialogue and communication to help families work better together.
What’s happening in Uganda
One of our partners, the Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union (BJCU) in Uganda, is an inspiring example of what is possible. In March 2015, this women-centred coffee organization was awarded the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Sustainability Award.That same year, we worked with BJCU to help build a cupping lab at Bukonzo Joint to equip local growers with the tools they need to continue improving coffee quality over time.
Watch the video below to learn more about this organization’s groundbreaking journey: