The triple burden: the impact of time poverty on women’s participation in coffee producer organizational governance in Mexico

Sarah Lyon, Tad Mutersbaugh, Holly Worthen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


In the mid-1990s, fairtrade-organic registration data showed that only 9 % of Oaxaca, Mexico’s organic coffee ‘farm operators’ were women; by 2013 the female farmer rate had increased to 42 %. Our research investigates the impact of this significant increase in women’s coffee association participation among 210 members of two coffee producer associations in Oaxaca, Mexico. We find that female coffee organization members report high levels of household decision-making power and they are more likely than their male counterparts to report control over their coffee income. These significant advances in women’s agency within the household are offset by the fact that the women experience significant time poverty as they engage in coffee production while bearing a disproportionate share of domestic labor obligations. The women coffee producers view organizational labor as a third burden on their time, after their reproductive and productive labor. The time poverty they experience limits their ability to fully participate in coffee organizational governance and consequently there are few women leaders at all levels of the coffee producer businesses. This is problematic because it limits women’s ability to fully benefit from organizational membership: when women fully participate in governance they gain valuable business and leadership skills and producer associations with active female members may also be more likely to develop and maintain programs and policies that enhance gender equity. Our findings indicate that targeted agricultural development programs to improve gender equity among agricultural smallholders should involve creative ways to ease women’s labor burdens and reduce their time poverty in order to facilitate full organizational participation. The research findings fill a gap in existing studies of agricultural global value chains (GVCs) by demonstrating how the certified coffee GVC depends on women’s under and un-paid labor not only within the household but also within producer organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-331
Number of pages15
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Agriculture
  • Coffee
  • Gender
  • Mexico
  • Time poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The triple burden: the impact of time poverty on women’s participation in coffee producer organizational governance in Mexico'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this