With limited access to resources, knowledge and technical assistance, Maria, like many women in Honduras, have not been able to live up to their capacities and fully achieve their dreams. Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS), with grant support from The Starbucks Foundation, is aiming to break these barriers with a new project in Western Honduras. The project aims to close the gender gap in rural communities and increase the resiliency of coffee farming families. Building leadership skills with women and working with all members of farming families to enhance equitable participation and create new sources of income are key elements of the project. At the same time, activities will contribute to healthy homes through improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices.
The 18-month project, “Breaking Down Gender Barriers”, will be implemented in the departments of Ocotepeque and Copán, Honduras. It will directly benefit 1,750 farming families, 900 of whom are women and girls. An additional 7,350 indirect beneficiaries will be positively impacted.
Gender Inequality in Honduras
“As much as I’ve been wanting to have more opportunities to support my husband with our coffee farm, oversee our finances, and find alternative work opportunities to increase our household income, I’ve always been limited and encouraged to stay at home and take care of our children”, says Maria. In Western Honduras, only 23% of female coffee farmers are affiliated with farmer organizations (FO). The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the burden on women, due to increased time invested in housework and unpaid care work. Lack of opportunities also contribute to high rates migration; in Honduras, women account for 59% of migrants1 (higher than the global average).
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Honduras
“Our family gets water from the community piped water system every day. We use it for drinking, cooking, washing, and taking showers”, expressed Maria while quirking a brief smile. Just like Maria, 70% of farming households also reported having access to consistent water sources and believed it to be drinkable. The curious thing was that the baseline study showed quite the contrary. All household water samples were determined to not be suitable for human consumption. A major part of local communities are depend on contaminated and impotable water sources.
Breaking Down Barriers: Promoting Empowerment and Equality
In addition to supporting women and girls, HRNS will work with smallholder families as well as farmer organizations. By the end of the project :
Women and girls have developed:
- leadership and self confident skills
- increased access and control of economic and financial resources
Farming families are:
- supporting equal division of responsibilities and sharing of resources and benefits for all members
- improving resiliency to unexpected shocks
- taken steps to improve WASH practices at home
Farmer Organizations have:
- increased participation of women and female youth through inclusive strategies
- promoted better WASH practices among farming families