Championing the role women play in cocoa-growing communities
We are tackling the issue of women’s empowerment holistically and at scale through the Cargill Cocoa Promise – ensuring women are recognized and have access to opportunities as well as challenging the gender stereotypes that so often hold women back.
Why women’s economic empowerment is important
Empowered women play a significant role in global economic development – as employees, entrepreneurs, farmers, and through unpaid work, running the home and paying for children to go to school. In some of our origin countries, women make up more than half the agricultural workforce and they also take primary responsibility for children’s education and family nutrition. Research shows that the most effective way to address the worst forms of child labor and ensure more children attend school is by empowering women. Furthermore, when women are given the same access to resources as men, farm yields increase 20-30%1.
But gender inequalities remain deep-rooted in many communities and many women are still disproportionately affected by poverty, discrimination and exploitation2 . Women can only reach their full potential if they are able to work and access economic resources – including financial services, their own property and other productive assets – while developing their skills and gaining market insight.
The challenges women face
- Around the world, women have less access to economic assets such as land and loans
- They produce 50% of the world’s food, but own just 1% of its land3
- 75% cannot get bank loans4
- 55% of the world’s girls are out of school5
In cocoa-growing communities, women provide nearly half the labor on cocoa farms. Yet they do not systematically benefit from the income6 and many are not even recognized as farmers7.
Only 25% of cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire are owned by women, but they make up around 68% of the labor force8.
Activities that do not have big economic rewards are almost entirely left to women – from raising children and housekeeping to keeping livestock and growing food crops. This time consuming – and typically unremunerated – work often prevents women from participating in paid employment and community decision-making.
On average, women spend 19% of their time on unpaid activities, compared to 8% for men9.
Women face barriers to accessing training, which often takes place away from villages and at times when women are busy taking children to school or cooking family meals.
Farmer Field Schools are not designed with women in mind and as few as 5% of Farmer Field School attendees are women10.
Women’s participation in coops is often hampered by membership criteria such as land ownership11, because cocoa is seen as a male domain, or because they aren’t aware of the benefits of participation.
Only 14% of coop members are women12
We focus on benefiting communities by increasing the income earned by mothers and other women. We want women to become income generators in their own right – as farmers, as entrepreneurs and as business leaders. Cargill is supporting them by raising awareness of gender issues in cocoa-growing communities and by offering the skills, tools and resources they need to reach their full potential.
By starting with pilot programs in targeted communities, we first ensure our approach is right and then, following success, apply the best practices at scale. Our evidence-based approach means we are quantifying the difference we’re making across the cocoa value chain.
Tackling gender inequality
Our experience has shown that education about the benefits of women’s empowerment is crucial in communities where the role of women is closely linked to local norms, social attitudes and assumptions. To help create understanding of the importance of and barriers to empowering women, Cargill has supported training for 100 regional agents from ANADER, Côte d'Ivoire’s national agency for rural development. These agents are trusted members of their communities who teach local cocoa farmers agronomic skills, so they have a large geographic scope and a far-reaching influence.
We are also training over 70,000 Ivorian cocoa farmers through our farmer training programs, which include on-farm coaching and a classroom-based Farmer Day. Not only do these farmers gain critical agricultural techniques but the learning environment also provides an opportunity for men and women to work together as equal contributors and to learn about issues such as gender equality and child labor.
Improving access to training
To address the practical barriers facing women, many of which we now understand better thanks to the research we have completed in cocoa-growing communities, we have launched a business and productivity training program exclusively for women. Generally, agricultural training is attended mostly by men and the information provided is frequently not passed on to the women they work with13.
Now, we are working together on a new study to provide further insights into the barriers preventing women cocoa farmers from attending cocoa field schools. We will use the insights to further evolve our approach – for example by holding training in more accessible village locations and at times that do not conflict with the wider responsibilities of female farmers.
Providing access to financial services
When women have access to affordable financial credit, they can take steps towards economic stability and independence by becoming income generators in their own right. Working with CARE, Cargill has introduced community-based savings and loan schemes, known as Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs), in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire which enable both men and women to access affordable finance. This unique approach is managed and governed by local communities and interest rates are very competitive. Through introducing 165 VSLAs, upwards of 4000 people – more than half of whom are women – have accessed credit which they can use to start and grow businesses, as well as taking care of personal needs such as paying school fees.
Progress and highlights
2,031 people in Côte d’Ivoire have benefited from access to Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) since the Cargill Cocoa Promise began in 2013, 81% of whom are women. In Ghana, 2,180 people have benefited, 58% of them women.
1,500 people including 450 men trained about the importance of gender equality through our programs with CARE in Côte d'Ivoire in 2016.
We will continue our collaboration with CARE in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
In Cote d’ Ivoire, we will work with 10 more communities to address critical needs including access to economic opportunities for women and enabling children to attend schools.
In Ghana, we will work with around 250 communities to improve access to education; enhance women’s participation in decision-making; improve food security and nutrition; and improve child protection.
We are also piloting new training and funding programs in Ghana and Cameroon to identify what works and then scale best practices globally.
1 Cocoa and Gender in West Africa, Care, 2014
2 UN women
3 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2011
4 Source: United Nations Development Programme.
5 Used by Care
6 Cocoa and Gender in West Africa, Care, 2014
7 Telcar Cameroon Cocoa: Gender Survey Results, International Finance Corporation, 2016
8 African Development Bank, 2015
9 United Nations – Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, 2017
10 A CARE study on Women & Cocoa, commissioned by Cargill, Kellogg and Asda, 2016
11 Chan & Barrientos, 2010
12 Telcar Camaroon Cocoa: Gender Survey Results, International Finance Corporation, 2016
13 UTZ Certified