International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year to recognize the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world. Equal Exchange is proud to support women-centered projects through our work with small farmer co-ops. Today we’re highlighting a few of them. From income diversity to leadership training, these projects represent the ways in which organizing can bring opportunity.
New Women’s Initiatives at the Tierra Nueva Co-op in Nicaragua
By Susan Sklar, Interfaith Program Manager
At the Tierra Nueva Union of Co-operatives in the Boaco region of Nicaragua, some new initiatives are helping women to improve their economic conditions. Delegates from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Equal Exchange traveled to Nicaragua this past January to visit Equal Exchange´s coffee farmer partners. Members explained how they are trying to help women become active participants in the co-operative.
In Nicaragua, there’s a common understanding that the ownership of land belongs to men; when a woman marries and inherits land from her father, her husband automatically assumes control over it. But Tierra Nueva, a union of 600 small coffee and honey farmers, is making an effort to change gender relationships and inequitable practices. In 2006, Tierra Nueva applied for a grant to conduct a gender survey among its farmers. The focus groups and interviews documented what was already widely known: that the participation of women in Tierra Nueva farming co-operatives was extremely limited. As a direct result of these findings, Tierra Nueva created a gender policy program that was officially approved by the membership in October. It formally authorized the actions of the Women’s Commission, which is composed of five female representatives from the various primary coffee co-ops. (more…)