Empowering female voices within the cocoa community
Most farmers in Ghana are men, and they often hold much of the power when it comes to decision-making for the household. To support women to have more of a voice, we run a Gender Dialogue Platform in partnership with one of our customers, a multinational chocolate brand.
The platform supports over 160 women's groups in Ghana, and it educates men and women in cocoa communities on gender issues, such as reproductive health and family planning, as well as helps to diversify the skills of women working in cocoa. We're also taking broader action to ensure women's voices are represented. In farmer groups we support with this customer, 40% of leadership roles are available to women, such as treasury and vice chairman.
Helping women become entrepreneurs
As part of the sustainability programs we run with our customers in Ghana, we support women in cocoa communities to become more financially independent. We do this through the Village Savings and Loans Associations, where the women develop new skills such as business management and receive financial training. The cocoa season can be short and unpredictable, so equipping women with tools and knowledge they can use to generate other sources of income in the off-season is critical. Through the Gender Dialogue Platform, we have trained women in various skills, from plantain trading and soap making to bread baking and vegetable and snail farming. These programs have been a powerful way to champion women in their personal and entrepreneurial development.
Promoting financial literacy
In addition to learning new skills, all 160 women's groups we work with in Ghana have received business training and belong to Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). These initiatives help equip women with financial planning education and knowledge, teaching them how to invest their money and use the returns to support their families.
Women are a catalyst for change and are essential for cocoa-growing communities to thrive. As recently highlighted by Oxfam in its 2022 report on how effectively company commitments are tackling gender inequality in the cocoa supply chain in Ghana, some progress is happening. Of the four companies considered, Oxfam noted that only ofi is directly working to help women access farmland. But it also flagged that further research is required to demonstrate that our interventions translate to increased incomes for women and men.
So, my team and I here in Ghana will continue to partner with our customers and the wider industry to tackle the specific challenges facing women in cocoa communities. Together, we can work towards a future where women have the support they need to thrive.
1 The New Queens of Cocoa’, Fairtrade Foundation