For Maria Herminia Garcia and her small, Nicaraguan cooperative, CORCASAN, Fair Trade certification means so much more than a fair price; it is a symbol of hope and pride for the women in her community. Maria was the first female to ever be elected president of her cooperative, and is part of the organization's governing board--40 percent of which is now women. With a history of gender inequality in Nicaraguan farming communities, Maria’s close-knit cooperative is empowering coffee growing women with a staff of 16 permanent workers (of which 63 percent are women) and 135 temporary workers employed during the high season in the warehouse and processing mill (of which 70 percent are women).
This is a tremendous accomplishment considering the fact that the far flung community in the hills of San Juan del Rio Coco  could barely find funding to operate just a few years ago. Left without internet, government funding or even a paved road, the people of CORCASAN struggled to get by until achieving Fair Trade certification in 2005. Since then, they’ve been able to implement a women’s health clinic, uterine and breast cancer screenings, and “Mujeres Emprendadoras” (or Women’s Enterprise/Entrepreneurship program) to help women gain legal rights to their coffee farms and revenues from products sold. These are but a few of the many social programs CORCASAN now boasts.
With continued support and progressive leadership, CORCASAN is sure to continue to grow and thrive in the years to come.
To learn more about how Fair Trade empowers women around the world visit: http://www.fairtradeusa.org/what-is-fair-trade/impact/empowering-women