4C Certification · Gender Equality

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4C Gender Equality Add-On

Empowering women and strengthening gender equality in the coffee sector

Women play a significant role in the coffee industry. Over 70% of labour – planting, picking, processing, sorting – is done by women, depending on the region. Despite this, women tend to have little say in farm decision-making processes and often lack access to fundamental rights and essential resources, such as land use, finances, and education. This has implications not only for the income, health, food security, and education of coffee-growing families but also for coffee yields and quality.

The 4C Code of Conduct has one of the strongest linkages to the UN SDG 5 on Gender Equality (ITC 2020) and yet 4C sees further potential to deeper address the existing disparities and enable 4C certified farms to promote women empowerment on a global scope.

Therefore, 4C has developed specific gender criteria, reviewed by external gender experts, and compiled them in the 4C Gender Equality Add-On.


  • Increase awareness of the mutual benefits of gender equality within coffee communities for all: women, men, boys and girls.
  • Identify prevailing gender gaps, discrimination or violence and pave the way to eradicate them
  • Sharpen the lense for an intersectional approach by paying attention to the reality of vulnerable groups among the coffee producing communities, especially those suffering from multiple discrimination

Scope and target groups:

  • The GE Add-On presents a more extended scope of application that in addition to coffee farmers and service providers of processing also includes their children and other immediate family members
  • The criteria on gender equality and fundamental rights also explicitly address permanent and temporary, as well as migrant workers

Applying for the 4C Gender Equality Add-On

Main conditions

  • A valid 4C certificate that guarantees compliance with 4C core sustainability criteria, or the desire to obtain one in combination with the Gender Equality Add-On certification, and
  • Ambition to analyze and close gender gaps, or confirm their absence, through a credible third-party certification


The Gender Equality Add-On presents a deeper integration of the gender topic into the 4C certification system. Once a Managing Entity of a 4C Unit* submits an application to participate in this voluntary extension of the 4C certification, it will become a part of the 4C Unit’s regular established certification and audit procedures, including onsite audits, annual updates, and improvement plans. To learn more, please follow the link.

The scheme below demonstrates the incremental path along time that Managing Entities and their 4C Units undertake, once they apply for the 4C Gender Equality Add-On.

*In 4C terminology, 4C Units are 4C certified coffee-producing groups managed by Managing Entities. For complete definitions, please consult our glossary here.

What are the benefits for the coffee producers and Managing Entities?

  • Improved farm management practices by enabling women who work on the farms to access information on good agricultural practices
  • Increased farm resilience and profitability thanks to women participating in trainings on business management, diversification and leadership
  • Enhanced access to fundamental rights, resources and representation for all coffee producers and their workers – irrespective of their gender
  • Use of the Add-On as a diagnostic tool to identify Gender Equality gaps and define action strategies
  • A 4C Gender Equality Add-On certificate which entitles credible claims to be made on sustainable certified coffee which promotes gender equality
  • Highlighting the individuality of their coffee and exploring an opportunity of selling it to new markets and/or at a premium price

Read more about some of the female coffee farmers that have benefitted from the application of the 4C Gender Equality Add-On.

I am a conscious roaster, how can I get involved?

Promoting women’s empowerment is a commitment that not only advances the UN Sustainable Development Goals but also paves the way for a brighter future for generations ahead. Purchasing coffee with a 4C Gender Equality Add-On certification, or even supporting your suppliers in obtaining it, represents an impactful tool for participation.

Such engagement allows for an agile response to consumer demands for sustainable certified coffee while demonstrating advanced corporate social responsibility in terms of credibly strengthening gender equality.

Contact us

Join us in the journey to gender equality! Together we can improve the gender equality situation in coffee production in different regions and trigger changes on a global level. To start your journey, please contact us via info@4c-services.org