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Highland & Islands MSP's
Transcript of Mary Scanlon's speech in W8 debate,
23rd June 2005.
Mary Scanlon MSP with Alivera Akiiza At the W8 summit in Edinburgh
"Generally speaking women are not allowed to inherit and own land in many parts of Africa,
however, Alivera has overcome this problem and now owns 6 acres of coffee and banana plantations as her business.
She encourages other women to do the same. Women in Africa have a significantly lower default rate in business than men.
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con): I would like to thank Christine Grahame for giving me the opportunity to speak in this debate on the W8 summit. On behalf of all of us, I extend grateful thanks to Lesley Riddoch for her commitment to women in Africa, for her role in addressing poverty in Africa and for helping to bring us together as a group.
Christine Grahame, Maureen Macmillan and I attended the first sessions of today's conference. We were fortunate to hear Hauwa Ibrahim give one of the most moving and memorable speeches that I will ever hear in my life. I also met Alivera Kiiza, who is in the gallery. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay to hear her speak.
I would like to talk about Alivera Kiiza and the Cafédirect model of making women farmers powerful in African co-operatives. She has overcome many of the barriers that Trish Godman outlined. We should forget the old days when Scots bought Fairtrade products because it was politically correct to do so and not because it tasted good. Cafédirect and other Fairtrade brands are winning awards for the quality of their teas, coffees and chocolates and creating successful community enterprises that should attract the attention of any passing G8 politician.
Cafédirect was created at the height of the coffee crisis in 1991, buying direct from coffee growers and selling the pick of their crops to western countries. A greater market share for Africans means less poverty in Africa, and Oxfam estimates that, if Africa could increase its share of world trade by only 1 per cent, that would generate five times more income than it currently receives in aid and debt relief. However, developing countries face tariffs that prevent them from trading freely in the west, where our own farmers still receive large subsidies. Fair trade breaks that cycle by giving growers a decent income for their crops while ensuring that consumers enjoy high-quality products.
It took 10 years for men in the Karagwe District Co-operative Union to take the radical and non-traditional step of making their wives owners of trees. Karagwe is in the most remote region of north-west Tanzania and the union represents 67 individual co-operatives with more than 17,500 coffee farmers. Members of the KDCU were asked to send three women and three men to Cafédirect producer partnership workshops and the women soon spoke out. Although women do a lot of work on the farms, the coffee crop traditionally belongs to men; women do not often benefit directly from coffee sales. One woman told how she was beaten by her husband when she asked what had happened to the money that he got for selling coffee.
During a visit to the district, Cafédirect staff
spotted a young woman called Alivera Kiiza as someone with strong views on
women's empowerment. She agreed to help to facilitate the workshops and
was then chosen to address the Fairtrade conference in London. That made a
huge impact on her authority within the co-operative. This is what she
wrote when she returned to Karagwe:
I ask that, when members buy Cafédirect coffee, tea and drinking chocolate in future, they think of Alivera Kiiza and the women entrepreneurs in Tanzania.