1 October is International Coffee Day, this year the theme is “women in coffee”. I would like to give an example of how coffee can benefit both men ànd women, the whole family. This day is a day of celebration for the Kabuboni Farmers Cooperative in Tharaka Nothing county in Kenya. Members of this cooperative received roasted packets of their own coffee. This coffee is special, as it was produced by the women of the cooperative. They looked after the coffee, they sold it, and they will receive the income from the coffee. It has not always been like this. Coffee in Kenya is called a “man’s crop”: men own the land, on which the coffee grows, they are members of the cooperative, they receive the income and decide over its use. Men receive training on how to improve the coffee, but they usually do not share this information with their wives. Women do a lot of the work on coffee, however, they often do not share in the benefits. Therefore, women often undertake other activities to generate an income which they need for the family, and they grow other crops over which they have control. The coffee trees may be neglected and improved technologies are not being implemented, the quality and quantity of the coffee beans go down.

Some time ago, Peter Ndamberi, the trainer at Sustainable Management Services (SMS), begun training the board members of this cooperative to show them that the way in which the members of the cooperative was working were not benefitting women. Therefore, the coffee is not well taken care of, and also the men lose, as they can sell less coffee at a lower quality. The men decided to give a part of the land to women to look after the coffee, and they could keep the benefits. The women became enthusiastic, and recently, the first ever women-only cooperative meeting was held! The support went further, and it was decided to roast the women’s coffee and they could sell it. Instead of getting only about USD 1 for a kilo of green beans the women now get USD 2 for 250 grams of roasted coffee, a 400 % increase for their coffee! Now the whole family will benefit. The board members and members of the cooperative were trained in the Gender Action Learning for Sustainability at Scale (GALS@Scale), where they learn how to set goals, analyse who is doing what in coffee production, who owns what and who benefits. With this knowledge, they decide themselves what they want to change.

Through my previous work with Hivos, and now as a consultant, I include GALS@Scale in programmes and ensure that trainers are trained, as also Peter was trained, who can implement the methodology in their own country. See elsewhere on this website for more information on GALS. Through implementing GALS the whole family benefits!

Women in coffee in Brazil



Some years ago I contributed to a book, in which it was mentioned that women’s role in the coffee sector in Brazil is low. I quoted UN sources. I was corrected by Josiane Cotrim Macieira from the International Women in Coffee Alliance (IWCA) from Brazil. On the basis of an interview with her, I wrote the article Women’s contribution in the coffee sector in Brazil invisible. Now I am so happy to report that IWCA published an e-book on Women in Coffee In Brazil. So nobody can say anymore that women’s role in the coffee sector is limited, nor that data on this subject is not available. Here is the link to the e-book:

E-Book Women in Coffee in Brazil

Happy reading!

Below is a short video on Women in Coffee in Brazil

Video Women in Coffee in Brazil

1 Oktober  2018 Vrouwen in koffie dag / Women in Coffee Day

1 Oktober is het ieder jaar internale koffiedag. Dit jaar heeft deze dag als thema “vrouwen in koffie”. Dat is hard nodig, vrouwen vervullen een cruciale rol in de productie en verwerking van koffie, maar zien er vaak erg weinig voor terug.

In de klein schalige productie van koffie is het koffieveld vaak van de man, die ook landbouwvoorlichting krijgt, en betaalt krijgt voor de geleverde bonen. Echter, vrouwen doen veel van het werk, maar krijgen hier vaak niet voor betaald, als het gezinsarbeid is. De man bepaalt ook vaak hoe het inkomen uit koffie besteed wordt, en dat is vaak niet wat de vrouw wil.  Alleen als de vrouw zelf hoofd van het gezin is, en zij dus zelf een stukje land heeft, kan ze de bonen ook zelf verkopen en heeft zij controle over de inkomsten. Er zijn ook vrouwelijke landarbeidsters, die ingehuurd worden bij het oorgsten, maar ze krijgen vaak een lager loon dan mannen. Ook voor mannen is dit al geen vetpot, dus voor vrouwen zeker niet. Vrouwen richten zich dan ook vaak op producten, waar ze wél controle over hebben, zoals groenten of fruit, die ze zelf eten en de rest verkopen. Vrouwen zijn ook zelden lid van de landbouwcooperatie, omdat je lidmaatschap afhangt of je zelf land hebt.

Het filmpje dat je hieronder kan zien, geeft een goed beeld hiervan (is in het engels).

Is hier al wat aan gedaan? Ja, vrouwen in verschillende koffieproducerende landen richten zelf een cooperatie op,  verbouwen en verkopen zelf de koffie. Simon Lévelt bijvoorbeeld heeft 3 soorten koffie van vrouwen (uit Peru, Rwanda en Indonesië) op haar website staan, maar geen van de drie is leverbaar. Ikzelf geef trainingen aan boeren en mensen die met hen werken hoe ze tot een gelijkwaardiger verdeling van arbeid en inkomen kunnen komen. Deze trainingen leiden tot geweldige resultaten. Ik leg dit elders op deze website uit (in het engels).

Wat kan je zelf doen? Je kan bijvoorbeeld ook een reaktie sturen naar Simon Lévelt met de vraag waarom de koffie van vrouwen niet leverbaar zijn, omdat je die graag wilt kopen. Je kan ook bij je winkel waar je koffie koopt, of de koffieshop waar je een kopje koffie besteld vragen of dit wel vrouwvriendelijke koffie is. Dan zullen ze waarschijnlijk grote ogen opzetten, en als antwoord geven, dat ze dat niet weten. Het wordt tijd dat zij én wij dat wel weten, én dat er meer aan gedaan wordt. Het begint bij jouw vraag!

Wil je hier meer over weten, laat je adres achter, dan krijg je bericht bij mijn volgende verhaal hierover. Vertwl me waarover je meer wilt weten, dan kan ik hierover een volgende keer schrijven. Dank je wel!

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From thousands to millions, amazing changes in gender relations through household methodologies

From 27-29 June 2016 more than 60 people from all over the world gathered in Rome to share their passion: Gender Action learning System or another household methodology, which brings about amazing changes in rural people’s lives in many parts of the world: manyfold increases in production, shared land titledeeds, joint planning and decision making, shared labour for productive and reproductive activities, and many more. The aim of the meeting was how to scale up from thousands to millions? All participants pletched 5 things they would do without cost to achieve this.


From 27-29 June 2016  more than 60 people from all over the world gathered in Rome to share their passion: Gender Action learning System (GALS) or another household methodology, which brings about amazing changes in rural people’s lives in many parts of the world: manyfold increases in production, shared land titledeeds, joint planning and decision making, shared labour for productive and reproductive activities, and many more. The aim of the meeting was “how to scale up from thousands to millions”?  All participants pletched 5 actions  they would do without cost to achieve this.

The first and second day gave an overview from Linda Mayoux on the methodologyand presentations from the organizers, IFAD, Oxfam Novib and Hivos, sharing of experiences on GALS in value chain development and rural finance, as well as rural livelihoods and extension..

The second day many  presentations were made on implementation by various organisations and in different countries in Africa and Asia:

  • Enhancing the capacities of local development organisations in the Red Sea State Port Sudan Association for Small Entperise Development – Sudan
  • Community led action learning for Gender Justice in Value Chain development  (GENVAD) DUHAMIC-ADRI, Rwanda
  • Empowering female leaders with GALS tools, Laos
  • Research project on Household methodologies, Malawi CIMMYT-CCAFS with NASFAM
  • Community led value chain development for gender justice and pro-poor wealth creation , BAIR, Rwanda
  • Accelerating Gender Equity in the Coffee Value Chain – The Coffee Quality Institute Partnership for Gender Equity
  • Nut in Shell Project  National Smallholder Farmers Association, Malawi (NASFAM) with TWIN
  • Gender Dialoque project, Fair Labour Association in association with Nestlé, Cote d ‘Ivoire
  • Achievements of using GALS in Laos
  • GALS in Sierra Leone
  • Farmers Association of Community Self-Help Investment Groups (FACHIG) Trust, Zimbabwe
  • Coffee as a family farming business – Hivos

From the second day onwards, participants brainstormed how to take household methodologies and GALS to scale, moving from the present thousands to millions. The third day the participants brainstormed futher what going to scale  would mean and require, and worked out proposals for collaboration, and made 5 commitments for action.

In her second presentation on how upscaling, Linda Mayoux drew how a dynamic change movement would look like:
hydra's amoubes

All participants went home all fired up, and knowing they have many friends all over the world sharing the same passion: making gender relations more equal, and empowering both women ánd men!

Do you also want to become part of this movement? Let me explain to you how GALS works and how you can get involved.  Get in touch!

Contact Catherine van der Wees at



How to get reliable Key Performance Indicators on gender

Do you also find it difficult to have reliable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in your programmes, especially in relation to measuring change in gender? Below I describe some major domains and indicators, as used in the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), the W+ standard and by The Donor Committee on Enterprise Development (DCED) . I zoom in on one participatory approach, which combines qualitative with quantitative data collection for both women ánd men, which provides reliable data, is cost effective and empowering.


Many different indicators have been developed, and small or large-scale surveys done, costing a lot of money. For example the Women’s Empowerment  in Agriculture Index (WEAI). This index compared women’s empowerment in agriculture in different countries, using five domains:

  • production
  • resources
  • income
  • leadership
  • time

(AgriPro-Focus, Gender in value Chains 2012:122-126)   It was a large scale quantitative comparison between different countries. This is not easily repeated in the context of programmes or projects, even if made more qualitative. A major problem may be the reliability of the answers, as farmers may not easily answer strangers  on these types of questions.

The W+ Standard

The W+ standard is an unique certification label developed by Women Organising for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources (WOCAN) that endorses projects that create increased social and economic benefits for women in participating in economic development projects. W+ measures women’s empowerment in six domains:

  • time
  • income and assets
  • health
  • leadership
  • education and knowledge
  • food security

It produces quantified women-benefit units that contribute towards post-2015 Sustainability Goals (SDGs), Climate Financing, or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) targets.  (Coffee Toolkit 2014: 179-185)Even though companies may want to work towards these, it may be an additional burden on top of already heavy standard requirements. It deals with women only, therefore not measuring possible empowerment of men.


The Donor Committee on Enterprise Development (DCED) developed a Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE)  framework. It recommends to formulate indicators related to your objectives. Select your indicators in accordance with your approach to inclusiveness. Different outcomes will be formulated for initiatives in which women and youth is mainstreamed versus the ones that target women and youth. The recommend to use a mix of access to resources and agency indicators.

Access to resources can be measured with indicators as commonly used in Private sector Development Programmes:

  • increase in income
  • skill development and access to resources
  • employment opportunities

The most important to do this is a sex disaggregated manner.

Agency refers to indicators around:

  • time use
  • decision-making abilities
  • physical mobility

DCED recommends to use both qualitative and quantitative data collection. Some general insights on the effectiveness of M&E:

  • Make M&E a learning partnership, not a performance test
  • Approaches that include multiple M&E frameworks/tools/methods are more effective that frameworks that use just one approach
  •  Balance quantitative and qualitative assessment techniques
  • Legitimize and value participatory approaches
  • Make M&E systems flexible and adaptable
  • Also track and assess negative changes, resistance and reversals as a result of actions
  • Approaches that assess contribution to change (like theories of change) work better than attribution based frameworks (like logframes)
  • Tailor  indicators and results to time frames to make them more realistic, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.
  • Invest in baselines (AWID in Coffee Toolkit 2014: 211-2).

Comparing the three approaches 

From the three major players using gender domains and indicators, many are overlapping. To be precise:

  • time , income and resources (assets) is used by all three
  • education, skill development and knowledge is used by two
  • production, decision making, physical mobility, food security, and employment opportunities is used one by at least one.

The WEAI and the DCED are collected through large very costly, quantitative surveys, which often have problems of reliability. The W+ standard was developed in a participatory manner, but deals with women only, and has heavy standard requirements, which are also costly. Another example, which combines the advantages of the first three methodologies, integrating most of the domains and indicators used, can be found in the GALS. This is  a participatory approach for both women ánd men, linking bottom-up qualitative tools which can be quantified, collecting reliable information, is not expensive, and  is also empowering for those in which the changes occur.  Lastly, it is linked to the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against  Women) principles.

Gender Action Learning System

One example of a participatory approach is the Gender Action Learning System, which has several qualitative tools, which can be quantified for large groups of people.

The best example is Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Union, a farmers cooperative union in West Uganda, of more than 5000 members, which collects data this way.

It starts with the individual farmer, male or female, who tracks his or her   own changes in note books, using green fruits (green circles) around pictures for planned change, and red fruits (red circles) around pictures of achieved change.

A tool for quantifying changes is the achievement journey. These changes are then quantified in group meetings. One person calls their achieved change, then it is quantified how many  women and men have achieved the same change. Change for women and men are colour coded differently. Then another person gives his or her achieved change, and again it is quantified how many women and men have achieved the same change. These quantified changes of different groups are then combined, either in a drawing or  in excell sheets, or both.

Vuasu Coopeartive Union in Tanzania did a similar exercise for 1500 people.

Vice Chair of Vuasu presents the Vuasu Vision Journey Plan.

This can then later be placed in “domains”, such as mentioned above. GALS uses the  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against  Women (CEDAW)  principles as basis, this would then be:

Right 1: freedom from violence

Right 2: equality of property ownership

Right 3: equality of decision-making

Right 4: equality of work and leisure

Right 5: freedom of thought and association

Ad 1. Reduced domestic violence

Ad 2: Shared resources, such as joint land

Ad 3: Shared planning and decision-making

Ad 4: Time (shared reproductive and productive activities) Increase in income (and savings), Increase in Employment

Ad 5: Women are member of producer organisation, and are members of the board


Once integrated into operations, GALS  M&E does not cost any additional money, is much more reliable than many of the methods mentioned above, ánd is empowering for both female ánd male farmers themselves.

Call for action

GALS uses different tools in its M&E.

For more information see Gender Action Mainsteaming for Change Network

Interested to learn more? Please contact:

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Gender training in Indonesia

IndoCafCo (ICC) together with Hivos started a programme in 2016 in Semendo in Sumatra, Indonesia. The programme was funded by IDH and JDE.

Below is a description of the gender component of this programme.



IndoCafCo (ICC) together with Hivos started a programme in 2016 in Semendo in Sumatra, Indonesia. The programme was funded by IDH and JDE.

Below is a description of the gender component of the programme, in which I am involved.

The problem

In Semendo, South Sumatra, there are a lot of challenges in coffee, and most farmers feel their quantity and quality of coffee is not yet such that they can sell to ICC, they also see transporting the coffee to ICC as a constraint, and do not own bank accounts. They expect much for a cooperative society at village level. Here is much potential for ICC. The indebtedness of farmers to middlemen is widespread.

In relation to gender aspects, there is gender inequality in almost all aspects: ownership, decision making, expenditures, productive and reproductive labour. Men do more productive labour, and are involved in a number of income generating activities, such as motorcycle taxi, daily wage labour in construction and agriculture, women also do daily wage labour in agriculture. However, women earn much less (Rp. 30,000) than men (Rp 50,000 / day), despite equal pay legislation.  Both men and women are involved in coffee production, and postharvest activities, as well as in growing paddy. Women do much of the reproductive work.  Mostly women and men discuss issues before the men takes the final decision. Women can take their own decisions in relation to paddy and their own business. As Semendo is a matrilineal society, first born daughters inherit both house and land from their parents, making the ownership of assets less unequal.

The intervention

In April 2016 a gender training was conducted with IndoCafco and Hivos in Semendo, South Sumatra, Indonesia, 10 women and 10 men participated in the training, made their vision, ananlysed the constraints and actions to increase their coffee income, did a gender analysis on their own family using the Happy Family Tree, and made their multilane household vision plan, as you can see in this picture.

In the following week the same coffee farmers, champions, facilitated almost 100 people in their own villages in making a vision and a  household vision plan.

First results

The champions commited to changes, such as reduce smoking by the men, reduce expenses on makeup and clothes by the women, and the men committed to support their wives in setting up a new business.

As this farmer described:

“At first I was sceptical about the training, but then I realised that this was indeed working for me”

He stopped smoking and put the savings in a savings box.

Through the training the champions became more aware of the gender issues, developed a vision as a couple and their first intended change focusses on reducing costs, and increasing income through an additional business for the wife, supported by the husband, thereby setting important first steps in the reduction of debt and dependence of the moneylender, in a gender sensitive way.  Through monitoring of their coffee production and comparing with non-GALS champions the project will be able to monitor changes in this area as well.

Get involved

Also want to improve the lives of female and male (coffee)  farmers? Get involved! Get in touch!