4C Certification · Gender Equality

Join the 4C Certification Process - Step by Step

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 labor – planting, picking, processing, sorting – is done by women, depending on the region. Despite this, they tend to have little say in farm decision-making processes and lack access to essential resources, such as land, 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 transform 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 a 4C Gender Equality Add-On.

Applying for the 4C Gender Equality Add-On

Main conditions

  • A valid 4C certificate that guarantees compliance with 4C core sustainability criteria, and
  • Desire 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 good agricultural practices
  • Increased farm resilience and profitability thanks to women participating in trainings on business management, diversification and leadership
  • A 4C gender certificate which entitles credible claims to be made on sustainable certified coffee which promotes gender equality, thus, highlighting the individuality of their coffee and exploring an opportunity of selling it to new markets and/or at a premium price

Did you know that …

… 4C Gender Equality Add-On can also be used as a diagnostic tool in sustainability projects on gender in order to identify gender equality gaps and define action strategies for coffee farms outside of the 4C System? Contact us to learn more.

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

Supporting women empowerment is a noble act, bringing us closer to the fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and a better future for the next generations to come. The most straightforward way to contribute is to support your green bean suppliers in applying for the 4C Gender Equality Add-On and in the implementation of improvement measures recommended after the assessment. Such engagement allows for an agile response to consumer demands for sustainable certified coffee and showcasing advanced corporate 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