From where I stand: “It’s not just men who can do business”

Deyanira Cordoba belongs to a family of coffee growers of Tablon de Gomez, in the of Nariño region of Colombia. As part of a UN Women project, she has learned about her economic rights, bodily autonomy and more. The future holds many possibilities for this talented artist and coffee grower, but whichever path she chooses, she feels she belongs with her community, in the mountains of Colombia, watching the coffee grow.


Deyanira Cordoba. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Deyanira Cordoba. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

I started picking coffee when I was a little girl, maybe six years old. I would help my mother pick the ripe, red, coffee cherries and put them in the bucket. My mother grew coffee in the land around our house. I still help her, and my brother too, he has some land. My father is sick, he can’t work like before.

I love working with coffee. Tomorrow I will go to the field early in the morning and put some fertilizers. Since it has rained so much today, the soil will be ready for the nutrients. Then I will pick out the weeds. In the rainy season, the weeds grow quickly. The harvest time is in June or July, and as the coffee starts ripening, the land is full of colours—all shades of green, yellow and red.

Most of the young people here help their families in growing and picking coffee. They say it’s a way of forgetting all our troubles. When I pick coffee, I don’t feel any stress.

I joined the project last year, and since then I have learned so many things. Most importantly, I have learned the value of women. I used to have a low self-esteem before, but not anymore. I have learned to be comfortable in my own body.

My dream is to become a coffee entrepreneur and help my parents and my community. It’s not just men who can do business. We women can make and achieve our own goals.”

SDG 5: Gender equality
SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Deyanira Cordoba, 23, is part of the Empowerment of Women Coffee Growers of Tablon de Gomez project under UN Women’s economic empowerment programme in Colombia, implemented by Corporation for the Social, technological and economic development of Colombia (CORPDESARROLLO) and funded by the Government of Sweden. The people of this area have grown coffee for generations. The Holy Week of 2003 saw unspeakable violence as the Colombian military and the guerillas fought against each other, displacing at least a thousand farmers. It has taken years for some of the farmers to come back to their land and the municipality has been one of the most successful areas in applying the Victims and Land Restitution Law, with 562 families now part of the land restitution process. Cordoba’s story relates to Sustainable Development Goal 8, which aims to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, as well as SDG 16, on achieving sustainable peace and SDG 5 on gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.