People We Love :: Isabel Latorre

Coffee for Women's Rights

“If women had their own income, we would be able to solve the gender problem,” says Isabel Latorre.

Latorre worked for years with fair trade coffee projects in her home in northern Peru, but she noticed that business income was too often controlled solely by men—and not always used to benefit families and communities.

In 2004, Latorre and a group of women coffee farmers decided to produce their own coffee, separate from the men’s harvest. The project led to the creation of Café Femenino, a nonprofit that sells fair trade coffee produced by women in Latin America to vendors in the United States and Canada. The organization says that communities with women-owned coffee projects have seen reductions in rates of domestic violence and improvements in education, medical care, and childcare.

Today, nearly 1,000 women from 50 communities in Peru and 5,000 women across Latin America are involved with Café Femenino.

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Kristin Carlsen wrote this article as part of Food for Everyone, the Spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Kristin was an editorial intern at YES! Magazine during the production of the issue. Kristin Carlsen