It’s no surprise: people love chocolate.
This sweet treat, in all the delicious forms it takes, is craved and consumed in massive amounts around the world. In the United States alone, the average person eats about 4.3 kg (or about 9 ½ pounds) of chocolate a year. That’s nothing compared to Switzerland, where people eat around 9.1 kg (over 20 pounds!) every year.
Lots of cocoa beans need to be grown to keep up with the worldwide craving. Where is all this chocolate coming from? Turns out, 70% of the world’s chocolate comes from West Africa – roughly 40% from Côte d’Ivoire alone!
Despite the high demand, many cocoa farmers struggle to support their families with their wages. This especially affects women. Even though women make up nearly half the labor on cocoa farms, they are given fewer resources and less access to vital training.
Empowering female farmers will go a long way toward ending poverty and gender inequality, which is why it’s become a key priority for countless companies, organizations and entrepreneurs on the continent. The Cargill Cocoa Promise is one initiative tackling this issue. They work with farming communities to make cocoa production more sustainable, create a more transparent supply chain, and help farmers thrive. The program works directly with both cocoa farmers and communities to improve livelihoods.
ONE and Cargill are partnering together in the global fight for gender equality, which is a vital cornerstone to Cargill’s Cocoa Promise. Access to training, financial services, and resources allows women to have equal access to farming opportunities, which leads to higher wages and better livelihoods.
“I have worked in a cocoa plantation in Sefwi for as long as I can remember,” says Victoria Awine, a cocoa farmer in Ghana. After losing her husband in 1989, Victoria has supported her family growing cocoa on their three hectares of land. Victoria joined the Cargill Cocoa Promise in 2014. She now produces three times more cocoa than before.
The women who work in this program aren’t the only ones who benefit. Empowering women in agriculture leads to increased food security, better education for children, and improved health and nutrition.
“By ensuring that women in cocoa-growing communities have economic opportunities, they will also have improved access to education, health care, agricultural inputs and much more to secure their futures,” says Cargill’s Sustainability Manager, Kate Clancy. “It is a win-win situation – for cocoa farmers, their families and the sector as a whole.”
The Cargill Cocoa Promise is one of a variety of private sector initiatives working to improve women’s economic outcomes. Other initiatives include Coca Cola’s 5by20 (a commitment to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs across the company’s value chain by 2020) and Unilever’s Shakti program, which has employed 80,000 women as micro-entrepreneurs across 18 Indian states.
These programs serve as a model for how businesses can prioritize recruiting and advancing a more diverse workforce, which would both grow their consumer base and improve development outcomes. More efforts of this sort — and at a larger scale — will be crucial in order for us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and harness the untapped $28 trillion opportunity that global gender equality offers the world’s economy.