In the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG), coffee is an essential cash crop. Women work longer hours than men in coffee production but receive, on average, less than one-third of the income earned. Women are also involved in time-consuming activities, including harvesting and sorting, which have a significant positive impact on the quality of coffee produced. Despite their valuable contribution, services that improve coffee farming techniques are predominantly provided by men, for men. Women rarely benefit.
Through the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program, the Australian Government supports CARE’s Coffee Industry Support Project, which makes the coffee industry more equitable. The project improves the economic and social wellbeing of women farmers through opportunities to participate along the coffee value chain. This includes increasing women’s ability to earn more and have more control over their income. It also includes influencing the workplace policies, practices and programs managed by key industry stakeholders so they are more inclusive.
Alma Lance exemplifies what can be achieved through such a project. Alma has gained valuable experience in delivering services that improve coffee farming techniques through her internship with one of CARE’s private sector partners, Sustainable Management Services PNG. She now works full time with Sustainable Management Services PNG to address the significant gap in the number of women providing and receiving support services that improve coffee farming.
Alma has seen the positive impacts of the project. Companies are changing their practices, for example, by holding support service sessions at a time which maximises women’s participation. Some companies have also changed their human resource policies so they are more transparent and equitable. As a result, women’s participation in coffee-related support services since 2013 has increased from less than 5 per cent to more than 40 per cent.