From agency to empowerment: women farmers’ experiences of a fairtrade coffee cooperative in Guatemala
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Through the feminization in agriculture over the last decades, more women have been taking on formal roles in cash crop agriculture, including as members and leaders in cooperatives. Yet minimal research has sought to understand the dynamics of women’s participation based on their own accounts. This paper explores the lived experiences of Mayan women coffee cooperative members in the Western Highlands of Guatemala through their own perspectives. Two visual participatory research methods were combined with semi-structured interviews to generate grass-roots level perspectives on complex social and behavioral phenomena within this difficult to reach population. This study finds that through women's formal participation as cooperative members, they not only gain enhanced access to critical resources and improve their food security, but also develop agency at the individual level and become empowered through the institutional structure of the cooperative and its link to a larger federation.Keywords: Fair Trade, Gender, Coffee Cooperatives, Empowerment, Guatemala.