Global Woman Fresh was established a year and a half ago when Julie Escobar, Monica Bratuti and Viviane Schappo decided to get together using their combined experience of 45 years in the fresh produce industry to create an opportunity for women to network and connect, when they got deeper into the discussion they created the mission which was to connect, empower and inspire women in the Ag business all the way from the “farm to the fork”, focusing discussions within five pillars of the industry – Food Waste, Sustainability, Social Impact, Technology and Innovation.
The first event for GWF was at Fruit Logistica in Berlin last year and they realised that it is easy for organisations to host women’s events at conferences but it is always very regional while each country has its own perspective on the issues faced but there was no organisation which tackles the global discussion and this is what GWF is all about.
“After the event in Berlin last year we learned that if we are putting this discussion forward we have to be mindful of the differences on different continents, for example we learned that women in The Netherlands are quite advanced in that they have a lot more opportunities so they didn’t want to sit down and talk about gender equality. What they really wanted to talk about was things like food waste, sustainability and social impact, technology and innovation and so on, while for women in emerging markets like Africa, Latin America and Asia the complexities of their day to day lives are so different and they did want to talk about gender equality, gender gaps and sexual harassment,” explains co-founder Julie Escobar.
“The challenge for us has been how do we level the room? How do we bring topics that matter to a global community? How do we make it inclusive to men? because at the end of the day we tend to be a very largely male dominated industry and most of the top decision makers are male, so how do we open up the room for men to come and have a discussion?
“We want to involve women in the industry all the way from the farm level to the final consumer. The reason for that is women in today’s world, in all the different markets are the ones who make the purchasing decisions at the store level, 80 – 90% of the purchasing is done by mothers so imagine the impact we can have on sustainability, packaging and cutting out plastic. All of these are issues which are affecting the industry, that are affecting the world.”
GWF have a partnership with The United Nations who have a project called SheTrade. This is an initiative to empower more than 3000 women by 2021 in under-developed countries.
“Most of the work they are doing is in Africa, so we partnered with them which had just been phenomenal, they flew us to Fruit Attraction last year and are sponsoring our event in Berlin We are doing all sorts of seminars and webinars with them and are teaching these women about finance, business and how to develop stronger relationships with retailers and buyers around the world. These women are growers and farmers in Africa who have a lack of investment, a lack of knowledge of the markets and a lack of supply chain so we are trying to build a bridge and be able to tell the bigger story about how they are doing business.”
In Berlin there will be a special event for these women on Friday where they can come along and talk one on one to advisors, There are some fascinating stories to tell and if these are shared these with exporters and retails it can really have a massive impact, according to Julie.
Global Women Fresh has also lined up a great list of speakers for an event on Thursday, including Michelle Redfern who is a recognized speaker around gender issues, equality and inclusion. There will also be a panel discussion with Adrielle Danker – CEO of Mature’s Pride and Regional Minister of Agriculture in Catalonia and the members of the UN.
GWF will also be revealing the results of their global survey which had 400 responses from around the world. It promises to give unique data from woman from around the globe.