Deerfield, IL — As part of its $400 million, 10-year Cocoa Life sustainability program, Mondelez International, Inc. is launching a gender equality initiative for women in cocoa farming in Ghana and Ivory Coast, the company announces.
The action plans respond to third-party assessments by CARE International and Harvard University that report Ghanian women farmers’ income is approximately 70 percent of their male counterparts; In Ivory Coast, their income is about 30 percent of men’s. In addition, Harvard analysts claim females in the industry receive 25 percent less training, 20 percent fewer loans and 30 to 40 percent less access to tools, fertilizer and other agricultural products. CARE analysts note a direct correlation between access to farmer training and finance and the use of farm inputs, which is central to improved productivity and income.
In Ivory Coast, Mondelez will focus on integrating women’s perspective in Cocoa Life program design and implementation and will use local cocoa platforms to achieve it; establish clear gender-equity targets; institute criteria to ensure women’s participation in farmer training and access to finance; adapt training topics, materials and methods and Cocoa Life’s Livelihoods and Community focus areas; and benchmark progress of each objective in gender mainstreaming against key performance indicators and local metrics.
According to Mondelez, Cocoa Life is in the pilot stage in Ivory Coast, with full rollout; in Ghana, it is established and expanding.
Plans for the Ghana program include enhanced access to farmer training, finance, farm implements and supplies, land ownership and membership in farmer groups; providing entrepreneurial skills for women exploring other livelihoods; engaging females in decision making in farm forums at all levels — household through national; training community leaders and Cocoa Life staff and partners in gender awareness; increase advocacy locally and nationally on gender issues; investing in literacy programs, whether with the Ministry of Education or community efforts; and tracking performance against established criteria.
Christine M. McGrath, Mondelez vice-president of external affairs and Cocoa Life says: “Gender equality benefits everyone and is essential if cocoa communities are to thrive. These assessments underscore the size of the challenge we face in boosting female cocoa farmers’ incomes and advancing their rights in cocoa farming.”
Promoting women's empowerment has been an objective in Mondelez International Inc.'s Cocoa Life since 2008. (PRNewsFoto/Mondelez International, Inc.)