“If being a girl scout makes me a feminist … GUILTY!”
On February 1st, 2014 our class was lucky enough to have a visit from the lovely Margret Swallow. A.K.A. Tina-Margarita. From the very moment she said the above statement, I knew immediately I was going to like her.
She told us her inspiring story about going from corporate life to doing non-profit work. Through her non-profit organization she became involved with the coffee trade.
She explained to us that although charity is great, it only goes so far. The business leaders of the world hold the power in their hands to raise awareness of issues that need attention as well as lead in the development of solutions. Though charity is helpful, it’s not sustainable. Real change will go much deeper than that.
When we discussed women’s roles in the world, I was appalled.
Women do 66% of the world’s work.
Women produce 50% of the world’s food.
Women earn 10% of the world’s income.
Lastly, women only own 1% of the world’s land.
The older I become, the more I realize how truly lucky I am to be an American. We live in a beautiful country where women do not have to be ashamed of who we are, we may vote, earn incomes, and own land just as any man can.
In my personal opinion in America our population is being viewed more as people and less as men and women. Not to say we don’t have a ways to go, because we definitely still do, but we’re headed further in the right direction than a lot of other countries. Though I’m happy to be an American, the mistreatment of women around the world truly breaks my heart. This passion has inspired me to find a way to get involved with this push for women’s rights all around!
Margret went on to inform us of women’s roles within the coffee industry. Though it has not been constantly measured, women are heavily involved in: the actual farming, trading, roasting and brewing of the coffee.
Due to the of lack of knowledge surrounding fair and direct trade, a lot of women are taken advantage of when selling coffee. This results in women not always getting the most out of their products worth.
To educate women around the world, we all need to come together.
Thus: The International Women’s Coffee Alliance (also known as the IWCA). This alliance is to empower women in the international coffee trade and community. This alliance pushes to help women achieve sustainable lives and encourages as well as recognizes participation of all women in every aspect of the coffee business by tackling the patriarchal societies across the globe.
The IWCA fights for women’s rights in the coffee trade. They are faced with challenges of traditional culture such as: the need to preserve family structure, preserve male ego, and establish men and women as partners.
In my opinion the men in these countries that still practice traditional family structures need to get off their high horses. Not only is this unfair to women, it’s hindering the betterment of the entire world.
In the presentation Margret gave, this slide was included:
She also shared with us this video that touched my heart:
Miss Tina-Margarita is a very inspiring woman. I truly would like to find a way to become more involved with women’s rights in the world, not only within the coffee trade but in every profession. We are all humans regardless of our gender and we all deserve the same fair treatment. None of us deserve to feel less than.
My favorite bit of advice given by Margret was in the story she told about going to her boss with a problem and he said:
“Anyone can bring me a problem, people that get promoted bring me the solution.”
I am extremely happy that I took this course, and especially that I was able to be in the audience for this presentation. I consider myself to be privileged as an American. This presentation really opened my eyes that prior to February 1st, I was completely oblivious to the way women are still taken advantage of in the world.
Knowing that we will be able to experience and learn about these patriarchal systems in the real world. I am even more excited about our trip now than ever before, and I cannot wait to see Olga’s farm and experience how it’s run!