“For more than a century, Iranian women have worked for change and fought for their freedom. Under the system in place in the Islamic Republic, however, they continue to face systematic, widespread legal discrimination. The law does not treat them as equal citizens in matters of crime and punishment, individual freedom such as travel and work, and personal status, like marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Despite the hurdles they currently face, with organization, unity, and common purpose, Iranian women are capable of changing history and building a new future for their country.” (mei.edu)
Mahsa Niyayesh is a 28 year old from Tehran and a strong supporter of the women in HoReCa (if you don’t know by now, this term refers to all baristas, bartenders, cooks, waiters and cashiers in the industry of Hotels, Restaurants and Cafés)
Mahsa began by working for a big chain restaurant/ café. It was, we were told, a very fast-paced establishment so while she was passionately busy doing her work in a part of the salon she would still have 12 hour-long shifts under her belt at the end of the day. Not a very sustainable long term lifestyle, if you ask us.
As Mahsa soon discovered some Iranian cities did not take women’s activities in coffee shops seriously, and even their families ignored their interests, she recalls.
This is what led her to the path she’s been on ever since:
I started researching and meeting a lot of people and getting more information from women in the industry; I realised that from the year 1993 up to now, very few of us women even attend competitions. With the help of this information, I was able to speak to large organisations such as the Barista Guild, the USA Social Support Centre and the US Federal Commission by email, submitting articles and proposals.
Each of these centres provided various responses. This is how I was able to introduce the ladies of our industry and noted that we are all equal and love the industry a lot.
For those of you who don’t know by know, Mahsa is the founder of the Women’s Association of Coffee in Iran – the first of it’s kind in the country.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg if you ask us. Mahsa’s passion and determination to provide support and help other female representatives be known within the specialty industry does not appear to have an end in sight. Another one of her philanthropic activities, we were told, involved coming up with social and cultural activities for the female coffee professionals that took place at the Ekbatan Tehran Centre for Iranian Idea and Export.
Moreover, she told us how important it is for her that all information about the activities that can take place around coffee be made available, free of charge, worldwide. This is why she supports more podcasts in the industry and provides herself “free audio to all people in the world”.
My first podcast course which was also attended by podcast professors on 4 October 1998 was first introduced by Radio Iran. A few women came to the event and I told them that it is possible for you to be in a podcast and have your say. This podcast will be your motivational training or your own story with no restrictions.
Talk about inspiration…
Another of her socio-cultural activities involved creating an Instagram page for women in the coffee industry that would send Mahsa their story alongside a photo, and who she would therefore help introduce to the world of coffee while wishing them all the best in the future.
On November 4, 2019, one of her articles was published by the US Federal Reserve Commission on a South African site (barladyjobs) and received unprecedented praise by all countries that were members of the Commission, Germany and England being just two examples. When we asked her about it she said
“Johannesburg South Africa made me very happy”.
We can only imagine.
A few of the reasons that led Mahsa to establish the Barista Girls Research Association of Iran in the first place was making sure women like her can find job independence in this industry that will in turn help them feel more financially secure and maybe even help with their self-esteem. We feel the coffee scene is Iran is more than safe being in such capable hands and wish them the best of luck.
Editor: Ronița Dragomir