27 April 2015

Three Key Themes Emerge From Uganda Workshop

Samantha Veide Global Director of Corporate Sustainable Solutions Mars Drinks

Samantha Veide is the Global Director of Corporate Sustainable Solutions for Mars Drinks. The following is an account of Samantha’s experiences while attending a workshop in Mbale, Uganda for the continuation of research conducted by the Coffee Quality Institute’s Gender Equity Initiative.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the third workshop for the Coffee Quality Institute’s (CQI’s) Partnership for Gender Equity Research , which took place in Mbale, Uganda, February 15-18th. The workshop uncovered several interesting new discoveries and trends. I was particularly struck by three key themes that emerged for me during my travels:

1. There is untapped potential in cross-category collaboration.
As a founding partner of the CQI gender research, I was given the opportunity to invite guests to the workshop on behalf of Mars Drinks. I invited two incredible women who have been highly influential in the area of gender equity.

Inge Jacobs is a gender expert in agricultural supply chains, and is currently working as a consultant for Mars Global Chocolate, based in Abidjan, where she is acting as Mars’ gender advisor for Côte d’Ivoire.

Jane Nyambura serves as the on-the-ground representative in Eastern Africa for The Ethical Tea Partnership.

During our time together, we explored the challenges faced in Abidjan cocoa fields, Eastern African tea fields and among small holders in agricultural communities across the world. While there are several differences, there are also striking similarities, one of which is the impact of gender inequity on these communities. Coming together to discuss these difference and similarities fueled powerful discussions and creative solutions that can help all communities struggling with this very real issue.

2. Gender equity is about human rights.

During my time in Uganda, I was surprised (and disheartened) to learn that domestic violence is a somewhat common reality in many households. The World Health Organization estimates that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime1 and that 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner. I saw the this statistic come to light via observations during my trip. Working toward gender equity in coffee communities will help build a more sustainable, more productive supply chain; but more importantly, it will provide women in these communities with the human rights and equality they deserve.

3. The concept of being “time poor” hits home.

The vast majority of the world’s population depends on unpaid household work (cleaning, cooking, child care) to maintain an acceptable standard of living. In rural agricultural communities, this work is considered “women’s work,” which places unrealistic constraints on women’s ability to get all of their necessary tasks done and enjoy any quality of life.

During the CQI workshop we asked women and men to outline their daily activities. Women’s days were packed with tasks from the moment they woke until they went to sleep (see photo below). When asked about “free time,” women cited the 15 minutes they designated each day for prayer as their personal time.

In addition to carrying excessive daily workloads, the infrastructure in poor communities makes performing tasks more time-consuming than in modernized cultures. For example, the lack of infrastructure - roads, public water, sanitation - and limited access to “modern conveniences” (electricity) makes daily tasks major projects. The unfortunate reality: a women’s time isn’t valued, and it isn’t her own.
 

I extend a sincere thank you to the dedicated staff at the Coffee Quality Institute for their work in pulling together experts from around the world to discuss challenges, explore differences, and collaborate on solutions for developing agricultural communities. By addressing critical issues like gender equality, we can foster economic growth, drive innovation, and improve the quality of life for producers in our supply chain.

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About the Blogger
Samantha Veide is the Global Marketing Director of Corporate Sustainable Solutions for Mars Drinks. This role includes the creation and oversight of the company’s sustainability strategy and the global education program for associates and distributor. She also works to ensure that Mars Drinks is actively engaged in the coffee and tea industry. She currently serves as the chair for the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Sustainability Council. Her educational background is in Organizational Communication, Psychology and Feminist Studies. She is also Q Grader certified and recently completed her post-graduate work in Sustainable Business Leadership through the University of Cambridge, U.K.

 

Inge Jacobs was born in Belgium but has been living her life abroad, in Africa and Latin America. She has an academic background in law, with a specialization in human rights and public health. Inge has an extensive experience leading, implementing and evaluating programs that improve the lives of vulnerable people, with a passion for increasing the rights and quality of life of women and children. In her work, she has been providing leadership that enhances outcomes and ensures the success of critical development programs in remote areas such as the Peruvian Andes, in urban settings such as Tegucigalpa (Honduras) or rural areas in Burkina Faso.

With excellent proficiency in Dutch, French, English and Spanish and an open mind, she is able to move and adapt easily in different settings. From training illiterate women of community-based help-centers for children and women in remote areas in Peru on child protection and women’s rights to training Government staff on Early Childhood Development in Burkina Faso, Inge has extensive experience in capacity building and strengthening of community organizations, as well as forming strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in benefit of the programs and projects she led.

Inge covers broad knowledge and experience on human rights and women and children´s rights in particular, community development, capacity building and health systems strengthening, HIV/Aids, and social and behavior change communication processes.

Inge is currently working as a consultant for Mars Global Chocolate, based in Abidjan, where she is acting as Mars’ gender focal point for Côte d’Ivoire. Her work is now focusing on developing and integrating a gender strategy into Mars’ Vision for Change program in the cocoa producing regions of Côte d’Ivoire.

Jane Nyambura is the ETP Programme Coordinator for Africa and is responsible for supporting ETP’s work programmes. Jane, who herself is a tea farmer, was previously employed by Africa Now as the Regional Manager for Ethical Business Services in East Africa.
Jane has a degree in Business Administration majoring in Marketing, and a MBA in Strategic Management. Having worked for the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) for 7 years in charge of standards compliance, she has extensive first-hand experience of working with smallholder famers. Another significant part of her role at KTDA was helping tea factories to attain Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certification, while also monitoring ETP assessments

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Footnotes

1Definitions according to WHO: Intimate partner violence refers to behavior by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors. Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object.

Tags: Sustainability