The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) founded the Partnership for Gender Equity in the fall of 2014, as a multi-stage collaborative initiative to illuminate how gender inequality at origin impacts coffee outcomes and the well-being of producers – and to determine how to respond.  Gender equity and women’s empowerment are now considered critical elements for the success of agricultural development efforts around the world.  Yet, in the coffee industry this opportunity remains largely unrecognized and untapped.


The Partnership for Gender Equity is a collaborative research and development initiative bringing together private sector and development partners to improve coffee quality and supply chain resilience with a focus on gender equity at origin.

PGE is a multi-stage initiative:

Stage 1: Research & Discovery (Completed September 2015): Identify key issues and opportunities and secure industry support. The one-year research effort culminated in the publication of The Way Forward: Accelerating Gender Equity in Coffee Value Chains. 

Stage 2: Pilot Projects and Industry Engagement (2016-2018): Apply lessons learned to develop strategy and carry out pilot projects with partners in stakeholder communities.

Stage 3: Scaling Up Solutions (2018 onwards): Scale up from pilot projects, utilizing the best tactics identified for addressing inequality in coffee value chains to improve supply outcomes.




Stage 1 research was launched in October 2014 and included the following activities:

  • Comprehensive literature review of key academic and development studies on gender in coffee and gender in agriculture
  • Four workshops with coffee producers (men & women), and industry representatives in four countries 
  • Review of current development best practice in gender in coffee
  • Industry Discussion Groups & 1:1 Interviews

These elements are the foundation for 8 Recommendations for Action: 

Our hope is that the information and recommendations in this report will not only serve as a practical guide, but will also inspire each of us to become powerful change agents – whatever our role – as we work together to build vibrant coffee communities and a prosperous coffee industry for generations to come.
— " -Kimberly Easson, CQI's VP of Strategic Partnerships

Read the Executive Summary and the Full Report.

Full Report     /     Executive Summary    /     Reports en español 



In 2016, the Partnership for Gender Equity will implement a number of practical actions to promote gender equity at origin – improving the quality of coffee and the quality of producers’ lives:

  • Design and launch pilot projects to implement recommendations from The Way Forward
  • Define research metrics for gender equity in coffee value chain initiatives
  • Develop Gender Equity Principles for Coffee and procure industry signatories
  • Provide custom guidance for companies to integrate gender equity into their policies and practices
  • Communicate about gender equity best practices to members and the broader industry




Our most important next step is the launch of pilot projects in producer communities in conjunction with buyers – roasters, exporters and importers – and development partners. The pilots will have direct impacts on the results of buyers’ existing relationships and investments while also generating critical data to support the case for promoting gender equity. 

The theory of change for these pilot projects is that industry-led efforts to make supply chains more gender-equitable will result in greater equality between male and female producers. In turn, greater equality will result in greater incomes and overall well-being for all members of the household – men, women, boys, and girls – as well as a more sustainable supply of quality coffee.

Through a robust research and evaluation component, the Partnership will test the impact of the report’s recommended interventions on the well-being of farming households; equality between men and women; and the quality and sustainability of coffee. The research component will also analyze the extent to which the tested interventions are scalable within industry supply chains.




The pilot projects will implement gender equity initiatives at three interconnected levels of the coffee value chain: end-market (Level 1), producer organization (Level 2), and household (Level 3) (see Table: “Partnership Pilot Framework”). It is necessary to work at each of these levels of the value chain to stimulate and sustain gender-equitable change. 

The results, research, and experience from Partnership pilot projects will provide evidence and data to guide the coffee industry on implementation of more equitable supply chains to enhance business outcomes while benefitting both female and male producers. Based on pilot project results, the Partnership will produce a report that analyzes all initiatives and scale-up implications for industry operations and development programming. In addition, the Partnership will use report findings to validate and strengthen the Gender Equity Principles for Coffee, which will be launched during the early stages of the pilot projects in order to galvanize the industry around taking action for greater gender equity.

The Partnership is seeking collaboration and investments from coffee industry partners, development organizations, researchers, and donors to fund and implement these pilot projects. Specifically, the Partnership is seeking the following partners: 

  • Coffee companies who will lead the pilot initiative within their supply chain operations; requires investment of their own resources to fund part of the pilot
  • Bilateral, multilateral, or private donors to supplement industry investments in these pilots, and fund technical assistance and research costs of pilot projects
  • Other industry and development partners including certifiers and development organizations to provide technical assistance, research, and implementation guidance


The Partnership will collaborate with interested industry members to provide design, management, implementation, and impact evaluation support to these initiatives. In addition to direct technical assistance, a portion of funding for the pilot projects will be set aside to support their management and coordination. The Partnership will highlight industry partners’ participation through social media and at public events and presentations.


Stage 3 will be designed in conjunction with private sector and development partners after an analysis of the impact of the Stage 2 Pilot Projects is complete.  

We invite your collaboration in this important work. GET INVOLVED.

The Issue

Gender gaps and inequities are especially prevalent in coffee-producing countries, which means that farmers around the world are not producing to their fullest capacity. On smallholder farms producing 80% of the world’s coffee, men and women often have specific roles on the family farmer. Women typically do the majority of the work that directly impacts quality and yields while men control transporting and selling. However, despite the importance of plant care, harvesting, processing and sorting to a better, more quality-centered coffee-growing business, women are often excluded from decision-making processes and have far less access than their male counterparts to vital resources, including adequate remuneration, land, credit, agricultural inputs, training, information and leadership opportunities.


Coffee companies and leading development agencies alike agree that addressing gender inequalities is key to ensuring the future of coffee and improved well-being. Promoting gender equity within the coffee sector improves the viability of smallholder coffee farming as a family business and prepares more women as well as men to better meet industry demands. Increasing women’s participation in parity to men's participation in supply chains can also lead to significant improvements in crop productivity and quality, as well as global food security and poverty reduction.


More information about gender inequity in the value chain can be found in PGE’s “The Way Forward,” an extensive research report with actionable recommendations for stakeholders at every level of the coffee value chain. These insights across the coffee lifecycle--moving from local households to producer organizations to global markets and back again--guide industry best practices and build support for gender equity investment within the supply chain. Through an ‘action learning’ approach leveraging human-centered design practices, together we can achieve real and measurable results.

Our Response  

As the coffee industry benefits from greater transparency and consumers are more focused on how their coffee is sourced, inequities between genders are an increasing risk in the value chain.With multiple crises threatening coffee supply and improved production, the gender gap is not only risky, it is unnecessary. Industry has the power to engage the full capacities of female and male farmers to address both industry profitability and human rights. A sustainable coffee sector demands gender equity.


The Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE) is thus creating common tools and methodologies to support the coffee industry to actively engage in and invest in gender equity across the value chain to improve the livelihoods of producers and enhance the sustainable supply of quality coffee. Our approach comprises three stages starting with scientific research, moving into strategic pilot projects and tool creation, and finally leading to our support of scalable investments throughout the industry. By harnessing the power of collective action within the industry, growers, buyers, exporters, importers, roasters, private foundations, development agencies, academic institutions and more can create a positive impact from community to cup, and for every step in between.


Transforming value chains within the global coffee community is not a one-person job. It requires passionate and forward-thinking partners at every link in the chain and in every part of the industry. We are so grateful for all those who have contributed to making our mission more of a reality. The Partnership for Gender Equity thanks the following business and organizations for their support.