Gender equity in fairtrade-organic coffee producer organizations: Cases from Mesoamerica

Sarah Lyon, Josefina Aranda Bezaury, Tad Mutersbaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Data from Mesoamerican studies shows that the proportion of women registered as 'farm operators' in fairtrade-organic coffee producer unions has increased significantly. However, this increase is uneven across Mesoamerican communities and the prospects for improved gender equity rest on several questions that we explore in this study. First, what explains the large discrepancies in participation across groups? Second, what effect does the 'farm operator' status have on women's ability to participate in producer unions and in fairtrade-organic coffee networks? Third, how will fairtrade-organic organizational and procedural norms affect women's insertion into the coffee 'value-chain'? Making use of ethnographic, archival, and survey data we find that fairtrade organizational norms combine with organic procedural norms to bring significant impacts in three areas: women's organizations have greater access to network benefits, women gain greater control over farm practices, and women enjoy increased access to cash. However, we also find that the burden of complying with norms together with stagnant real prices excludes some women who might otherwise benefit from expanded participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-103
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research support was provided by the University of Kentucky, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fulbright CIES, the National Science Foundation Geography and Regional Science Program (Grant: BCS-0456104), the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca, and Wenner-Gren. The survey research was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.


  • Coffee
  • Commodity-chains
  • Fairtrade-organic
  • Gender
  • Guatemala
  • Latin America
  • Mexico
  • Value-chains
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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