We want to be equal to them: Fair-trade coffee certification and gender equity within organizations

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42 Scopus citations


This paper analyzes the understudied gendered dimensions of fair-trade coffee networks and certification practices. It combines data collected during 14 months of fieldwork among- the members of a Guatemalan coffee cooperative with, a survey of the existing literature on fair-trade coffee cooperatives to demonstrate that the current fair-trade network is falling-far short of its goal to promote gender equity, particularly in three important realms: voting and democratic participation, the promotion of non-agricultural income generating programs, and support for female coffee producers. In consideration of the fact that international donors are increasingly funding certification-based poverty solutions, such as fair trade, this paper argues that the promotion of gender equity through certification standards and practices needs to be a vital component of the fair-trade mission, lest the promotion of gender equity in agricultural communities be neglected. It concludes that a participatory certification process would help address two central concerns: (1) the effectiveness of the certification process (in terms of identifying and correcting problems associated with gender equity within groups) and (2) the adequacy of current fair-trade certification standards in light of producer diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-268
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Organization
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


  • Certification
  • Coffee
  • Fair trade
  • Gender
  • Maya

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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