Domestic Violence at Origin

Oct 17, 2011|

Pictured above: Karen Cebreros, Partnerships North America

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the United States we recognize that nearly one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.* But domestic violence doesn't stop at our national borders, it is a problem that is found in every country.

What is Domestic Violence?

As defined by The National Domestic Violence Hotline, "domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels." However, women account for 85% of domestic violence victims in the United States. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), "violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control."

The coffee industry is not immune to domestic violence. According to the International Women's Coffee Alliance, the World Bank estimates that more than 500 million people throughout the world are dependent on coffee, and of that number, 25 million are coffee farmers. Women, who represent a good majority of coffee farmers throughout the world frequently suffer from abuse, neglect and poverty. These women are unable to gain economic, social or political power in their familys coffee business, or in their communities. They struggle with the long-established machismo attitudes that are prevalent throughout the worlds coffee growing regions. We asked Karen Cebreros, of Partnerships North America, to share her knowledge and help us better understand the domestic violence and gender issues at origin, specifically Uganda.

For background information, Uganda is a nation located in East Africa with a population of 32.71 million people.** Of that, nearly 5 million people are dependent on coffee directly or indirectly, of which 3 million are small holder coffee farmers with an average farm size of 1 hectare.

Karen notes, Ugandan women are the main productive force in agricultural activities providing an estimated 60% of the labor for cash crops such as coffee, cotton and cereals. However, women face cultural rules and practices that explicitly exclude them or give preference to men. This is a key constraint on women's empowerment and economic progress. For instance, in coffee growing areas of Uganda, Karen states that coffee is regarded as a mans crop because it takes a number of years to grow and requires large areas of land. While men work 8 to 10 hours per day, women work between 12 to 18 hours per day and see very few benefit from the proceeds. (World Bank 2005) Women face constraints related to access and control of resources like land as the men tend to undermine the role of women in agriculture. Even though a majority of Ugandan women work in agriculture, only 20% of registered land is actually owned by women, giving them limited decision making power over land use. They have been marginalized in access to ownership and control over land, skills development and inheritance rights.

Programs like the IWCA are striving to help break "the systematic pattern of dominance and control" (NCADV) over not only Ugandan women, but all women in coffee. Through their strategy of Success through Localization, IWCA representatives ventured on a mission that witnessed stops in five East African countries and was supported by the UN affiliate International Trade Center (ITC). These countries"Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania"have active organizing committees that are pursuing IWCA chapter formation to help elevate the role of women in coffee. As a proud supporter of the IWCA, BUNN takes great interest in improving the lives of those who help us deliver a quality beverage from seed to cup.

*National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Fact Sheet.
**Uganda Country Data Sheet from International Coffee Organization

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