Empowering Women Benefits Everyone: Cocoa Producers & The Chocolate Industry

This week, the 4th World Cocoa Conference takes place in Berlin. On the first day of this event, the Women In Cocoa & Chocolate Network held a gathering to highlight the role of women in improving the resilience and sustainability of the cocoa value chain.

The Women In Cocoa & Chocolate Network (WINCC) was launched in 2016 by Solidaridad with the aim of connecting and engaging women throughout the cocoa chain. The relevance of this issue remains strong.

While women play a big role in the production of cocoa and the consumption of chocolate, they have little influence in the sector. 

Time for Change

This year, WINCC were invited by Mondelez International, Solidaridad and the International Cocoa Organization ICCO to the World Cocoa Conference and for the first time in its young history, men were invited to join the meeting too.

Attendance was enormous, with more than 300 experts participating in a lively programme hosted by keynote speaker Andrew Bovarnick, Global Head of the Green Commodities Programme at UNDP, and inspirational speaker Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, Director of  Cocoa Life in Ghana for Mondelez International.

Empowering Women is Key

Cathy Pieters of Mondelez opened the evening, highlighting the (not so) secret recipe for a positive future for the cocoa industry:

“Empowering women is an amplifier for productivity and key to securing sustainability of the cocoa supply chain. Empowering women benefits everyone – the communities as well as the cocoa and chocolate industry.”

The Role of Training & Tools

Vilma Leticia Toc Maas, a young woman from a cocoa farming community in Guatemala shared her experience with the crowd. She explained how she joined a training for girls and young women on cocoa farming and forest protection and how this helped her to take charge of her life. Her story was illustrated with a short film about the training that Solidaridad organizes in Guatemala.

Business As Usual Is Broken

Keynote speaker Andrew Bovarnick from UNDP said:

“It is critical we include women more in decision-making processes as the business as usual approach is not working”

Including Women is Good for Business

Caroline Lubbers, Solidaridad Europe Cocoa Programme Manager, closed the evening saying:

“As ranked by Project Drawdown, some of the biggest social and environmental impacts can be achieved through women and girls’ education combined with family planning. When women farmers get equal access to training and credit, their cocoa farms are more successful, and they can contribute to family income and send their children to school.”

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