Women in the World of Coffee

Milan, 2 October 2015At 10.30am on Friday 2 October, the Colombia Pavilion at Expo is hosting the second international seminar Women in the World of Coffee: Fostering the “Quiet Revolution” – SUSTAINABILITY IN WOMEN’S HANDS, organized by illycaffè’s Università del Caffè and by the Fondazione Ernesto Illy.

The goal of the seminar is to bring together and foster relationships among women from different coffee-producing countries. The day after the end of the Global Coffee Forum(30 September – 1 October), more than fifty people will be coming together, including twenty women from over ten different countries around the world.

The Women in the World of Coffee Conference is based on the idea that this planet's sustainability should be pursued through a new approach to the issues of food and culture – one in which women can be agents of change. According to the International Trade Center, 70% of coffee growing, harvesting and processing work is performed by women. Despite this, just 10% of these women have access to the market and receive recognition for their work. It is estimated that the lives of 500 million people around the world are sustained by coffee. It is therefore hardly surprising how important the role of women is for paving the way towards a sustainable future for our planet.

Now in its second year (the first conference was held last year on 27/28 March in Trieste at the illycaffè building), the event opens with addresses from Juan Pablo Cavelier, Commissioner of the Colombia Pavilion ,and from a representative of WE-Women for Expo. Their speeches will be followed by delegates from the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA), who will be debating social sustainability and the labour conditions of women who work on the coffee market.

The IWCA is a global women's network that operates in the coffee industry. It aims to break down barriers that hinder emancipation in producer countries by providing access to resources and through a forum in which women from every part of the coffee chain, from bean to cup, get the chance to meet. The end-goal is to empower women and make them independent through knowledge and financial support, helping them change their role in their coffee growing communities.

Social, environmental and economic sustainability is one of the cornerstones of illy’s corporate philosophy. illy pursues an educational initiative as part of this project for women in the world of coffee through the Fondazione Ernesto Illy, which the company founded in 2008. In 2014, the Italian coffee company produced docu-film A Small Section of the World, directed by Lesley Chilcott and with a soundtrack from Alanis Morissette. Proceeds from sales of the song were donated to a Fondazione Ernesto Illy project for women who work in coffee.