Blandi Maricel Constanza Cobón counts herself lucky. She has three wonderful daughters and a husband who supports her by looking after her children while she attends trainings in the nearest city Quetzaltenango.
Blandi is a coffee farmer, Vice-President of the UPC cooperative and part of their 22-strong women’s group that is led by her sister Orfa which meets once per month. Through the group, she has been able to attend capacity training on self-esteem, gender equality, politics, the defense of women’s rights, family planning and women’s health.
Blandi has been working in coffee for over 10 years. She started with just 4 cuerdas (a little over an acre) of land producing organic coffee. Now, thanks to loans that she has received from the cooperative, she owns over 40 cuerdas of land, and this year harvested and processed 47 quintales of coffee herself, that’s nearly 5,000 pounds!
“Before, only men owned the land and we didn’t know where they spent the money. Now that we have our own land and our own income, we have gained self-confidence,” says Blandi Maricel Cobón, Vice-President of UPC, Orfa’s sister and member of the women’s group, on the changes she has seen since the women’s group was formed ten years ago. “Now the women speak their opinions in the meetings, and they have realized that they have the right to leave the house and the right to study.”
But not all the women at UPC are as fortunate as her. When asked why not more women farmers from the cooperative have joined the women’s group (only about a quarter have), she says that their husbands won’t allow them to leave the house to attend the meetings. Blandi’s biggest wish is that more women join the group so that they can reap the same benefits as she has: more self-esteem and a recognition of their rights.
“Behind us there are many more women and children that need our help,” Blandi says.
Celebrate the strong women of Guatemala who produce coffee by shopping coffee 100% grown and processed by the women of our partner cooperative in Huehuetenangod