BeanScene Magazine

The journey to empowerment

From the September 2015 issue.
The journey to empowerment

People of Coffee Foundation Founder Amelia Franklin on why it’s time to support women through the global coffee chain.

Before the sun rises, another day begins with the soft scratching sound of a wattled brush turkey.

I sit on the floor of a thatched kitchen hut to prepare my morning coffee with women from a farming village on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea.

I watch as a female coffee farmer laughs and chats to her sister. Their workdays blend into one endless shift. Her hands are rough from working dawn to dusk, picking, carrying, pulping, fermenting, sorting, washing, and drying coffee. 

When she’s not in the fields she cooks, gathers firewood, and looks after her children and subsistence crops on a daily basis. Without rest, this woman sees the world through the sweat of her labour.

I watch her pick coffee cherries from her small garden of 20 coffee trees. I see that she has come to view coffee as life’s binding agent, and her garden as her calling.

She has no saved money, and if the roads are cut off she will walk over mountain ranges to sell her coffee to make a meagre living.

She cannot read or write. Her children walk many kilometres to school if they are lucky enough to have a teacher employed.

This farming province closely resembles an impoverished coffee community in Ethiopia, Colombia, or India.

From the vantage point of our consumer country roasteries, cafés, and importers, these women’s stories improve with distance. A promising future is practically willed by the blossoming of our coffee culture.

The coffee farmers that welcomed me into their homes and who I shared meals with are living in abject poverty.

They receive only a small percentage for the actual price the coffee sold to the consumer.

Women who represent a good majority of coffee farmers face additional challenges of gender-based violence, and gender inequality, which is prevalent through the world’s coffee growing regions, not just in Papua New Guinea.

Amelia Franklin is the Founder of People of Coffee Foundation and Co-Organiser of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance Australian Chapter.

To read the article in full, see the August 2015 issue of BeanScene, click here to subscribe

*Locations and names have not been disclosed due to the serious issue of gender-based violence and inequity.

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