In March, it’s time to celebrate Women’s History Month. It’s an important occasion, standing for acknowledgement, validation, and honoring the contributions made by women all around the world. Like all other industries, this reaches us here in the coffee world, too. Let’s talk about it.
It Started with International Women’s Day
Women’s History Month started with International Women’s Day, which was first observed in the early 1900’s. International Women’s Day marked an important step forward, becoming a symbol for women’s rights worldwide. In many countries, it’s even an official holiday. In the United States, this elevated to Women’s History Week in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter declared:
Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.
By the late 80’s, Congress went on to pass joint resolutions to assign Women’s History Week to a specific week in March. While this was happening, schools around the United States were already celebrating their own Women’s History Month. By 1987, in light of the work done by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, officially making March Women’s History Month.
Every year since, our Presidents have issued proclamations affirming March to be Women’s History Month. If you’re curious, you can see those proclamations listed here. Just as well, each year, the National Women’s History Project declares a specific theme for each Women’s History month. For 2021, the theme was “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.”
Women in the World of Coffee
In any context, it’s imperative that we support women in the fight for equity and equality. In the context of coffee, this remains true. At Whole Latte Love, we are strong proponents of women in the industry and around the world. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that much of our success has been achieved by women, from the work of our very own team, to the wonderful people we have the opportunity to partner with around the globe.
As a lightning quick example, this blog would not exist if not for the work women did to make it possible. As someone who has the opportunity to write for Whole Latte Love, and may not have had the opportunity if not for the existence of this blog, I am forever grateful.
With that in mind, I would like to bring your attention to one of the incredible brands we’re proud to be partnered with: Barrie House, coffee roasters who’ve committed themselves to the cause of supporting women in the coffee industry. To quote them:
Barrie House is a strong supporter of women-owned farms and actively leverages our position, and our strategic partners’ position to drive awareness of gender equity, at all levels, in the coffee industry. We are a strong voice to educate our consumers and stakeholders on today’s challenges in the coffee industry and the importance of supporting the entire supply chain so that coffee will be here for many generations to come.
When I was first introduced to Barrie House, I was delighted to find this statement on their Farm Program page. It’s an often overlooked thing, and a stance most don’t take so explicitly, but here they are, throwing the gauntlet in challenge of all struggles faced by women in the industry. It is my sincere hope that more names in the coffee industry show their support as bravely as Barrie House.
If you don’t know already, in the world of coffee, data suggests that the work women do is wildly disproportionate to the level of ownership they have. Put simply, when it comes to growing coffee, you’ll find a much larger percentage of women participating in the workforce rather than leading it. The work that Barrie House does to give women opportunities they would otherwise be precluded from enjoying is incredibly important.
To learn more about them, you can find their history and timeline here.
Till Next Year
Take the time to appreciate the women in your life. Learn more about their struggles. Appreciate the work they need to do (often the extra work they need to do) just to survive, let alone thrive. Do this for the day, the week, the month, and, for what it’s worth, the other months, too. Because the struggle doesn’t stop.