Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

This is what 30 looks like: Zinabua Birhanu

page_six_main_rt.jpg

Zinabua Birhanu is a coffee farmer and community leader living in Harfussa, Ethiopia. She is married with 19-year-old twins

I never dreamed that by the age of 30 I would be in such a good position, simply because I am a woman. Being a female coffee farmer here is unusual, but it’s just as rare to be a community leader – I only have this role because my husband is less keen on work.

I am proud to be one of three women and seven men on the Fairtrade Premium Committee. We democratically decide how to spend the premium we receive for selling our coffee to Fairtrade buyers. I have an equal say on the committee and I always defend my voice. That’s the one piece of advice I wish I could tell every woman – fight to be heard. Women might not be equal to men, but they can do everything that men can.

When I was growing up, my mother was an inspiration. Even when times were tough she would always put us first, sometimes missing meals herself to feed me. Today it can be just as challenging to make ends meet. There is only one coffee harvest a year, so if it’s poor or fails we struggle for food throughout the year. Even when there is a good harvest, 70% of my income is spent on food, leaving just 30% of my yearly wage for electricity, clothing and books. I’m lucky, I built my own home – a thatch house – so I don’t pay rent and I earn more than most: $2 (£1.45) per day is the poverty line and I earn an average of around $3 (£2.15), but money is always tight.

The key to happiness for me is simple – it’s being able to put food on the table for my family and, when I can afford it, a spoonful of sugar in my coffee.


To mark International Women’s Day, Stylist spoke to 30 women across the globe to get an honest and eclectic view of life at 30. Read the rest of the feature here.

Related

ONLINE_ARTICLE.jpg

This is what 30 looks like to women across the world

page_eight_gaza_rt.jpg

This is what 30 looks like: Huda Albayoumi

Roshana Mehdian 047 a vs1.jpg

This is what 30 looks like: Roshana Mehdian

page_two_spread_rt.jpg

This is what 30 looks like: Nashuru Tagei

GC_059 (002).jpg

Gemma Cairney: This is what 30 looks like

Roshana Mehdian 047 a vs1.jpg

Junior doctor picked for the cover of this week’s Stylist

Hillary Clinton

A woman's place is in the White House: why we need a female president

cinderella proposal.jpg

We don’t need permission: why it’s time to abolish leap year proposals

lena dunham.jpg

Lena Dunham apologises for false Photoshop claims against magazine

Comments

More

Watch Emma Stone bravely open up about her lifelong anxiety battle

‘I didn’t think I’d ever be able to move away from home’

by Kayleigh Dray
28 Apr 2017

Sadie Frost opens up about her “crippling” anxiety and panic attacks

“Certain situations become crippling”

by Kayleigh Dray
28 Apr 2017

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s surprisingly honest selfie advice

The supermodel has an important message for everyone on social media

by Kayleigh Dray
28 Apr 2017

Ellen DeGeneres on how homophobic attacks damaged her mental health

“I was really, really in a deep depression”

by Kayleigh Dray
28 Apr 2017

This 101-year-old athlete can’t stop winning gold medals (and hearts)

Man Kaur took home a clutch of gold medals at the World Masters Games

27 Apr 2017

Emmy Rossum pens powerful essay about single mothers

“She was always enough. She is enough”

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Apr 2017

Susanna Reid clashes with Piers Morgan about stretch marks

Reid's body-positive comments were shut down by Morgan.

by Hayley Spencer
26 Apr 2017

Beyoncé is offering to pay for women to go to university

She'll be paying the way for four Formation scholars

by Hayley Spencer
26 Apr 2017

Emma Watson on “incredibly dangerous” social media

“I set even more boundaries than I had before”

by Kayleigh Dray
26 Apr 2017

Brie Larson: Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence “saved my life”

“That support was everything”

by Kayleigh Dray
26 Apr 2017