Fairtrade Foundation has launched a latest report on The Invisible Women Behind Our Chocolate which reveals some of the challenges of women in cocoa production in West Africa. The report was out doored as part of activities supporting Fairtrade UK’s “She deserves a Living Income Campaign” which throws more light on the challenges that women cocoa farmers face and the need to address the issues that continue to push women in the cocoa sector to live below the average standard of living. The report highlights the contribution of women in these countries as part of the labour force, despite the fact that only a quarter of these women own land.
Fairtrade makes a difference in the lives of these farmers. Through trainings on good agricultural practices that these women receive, as well as the earnings from Fairtrade Minimum Prices and premiums paid to their cooperatives, these farmers are able to earn a decent living condition. Farmers are able to support their household incomes and contribute meaningfully in society. Farmers invest the premiums received into social infrastructure such as include schools, health centres, canteens and water pumps.
Producers from Fairtrade certified cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire were part of a two weeks visit in the UK in February and early March 2020 to support the “She Deserves” campaign. Noelle Yapi is the Gender Champion at Fairtrade Africa -West Africa Network, based in Côte d’Ivoire. She recounts the benefits such opportunities of being part of the campaign afford to female cocoa producers in West Africa. “We are happy to be part of this campaign to bring the issues that women in cocoa production face, for the attention of industry players and stakeholders. Everyone has a part to play in helping to provide a level playing field for women and men in cocoa production. At the end, we bring the communities to be self- sustaining and this is our pride”.
Fairtrade introduced the Women’s School of Leadership (WSOL) in 2016 in Cote d’Ivoire, which trains women and men to identify ways of supporting women to build their self- confidence and develop their leadership skills in order to take active part in decision making at home, in their cooperatives and their communities. The trainings also equip women with additional skills that helps them to be self- reliant. More than 60 past and current participants of WSOL have gained resources so that they can contribute to society and engage in income-generating activities.
Rosine Bekoin is a graduate of WSOL and Secretary of the Women’s Association at CAYAT Cooperative in Cote d’Ivoire. She believes firmly in the power of women to bring communities out of poverty.
Leocadie is a farmer at Capedig from ECOOKIM cooperative in Côte d’Ivoire, elected as best producer in her cooperative. She struggles daily for women empowerment in her community where she leads the women’s association by introducing income diversification projects and the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA).