A STORY ON WOMEN'S EMMPOWERMENT
"BECAUSE OF THE COCOA LIFE TRAINING, MORE WOMEN FEEL EMPOWERED WITH KNOWLEDGE TO PARTICIPATE IN COCOA FARMING."
By Janet Opare-Addo, Cocoa Life community leader
A mother of six, Janet Opare-Addo leads community mobilization for many Cocoa Life activities, including the development of Community Action Plans (CAPs). She serves as a liaison and support for women who take part in training programs to ensure that correct methods are applied on farms. Opare-Addo supports 570 men and women in community projects across Asukyerema and five satellite communities. This includes leading two Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). Here, Opare-Addo shares details about her work:
When I visit the cocoa farms in my region each day, I see a wonderful thing: I see many successful and capable women from my community working as independent farmers to cultivate their cocoa fields. This is a beautiful sight, because I have devoted myself over the last three years to ensuring the women of my community have support and training to be successful cocoa farmers who can care for their families.
The Cocoa Life training program focuses on several areas of significant need in Ghana. We conduct education on cocoa farm maintenance and discuss important issues related to the prevention of child labor. We also spend a large amount of time in training sessions about nursing and planting of cocoa seedlings.
Some women have acquired land from their husbands or family members to start their own farms. And through VSLAs, we are helping women to buy land for cultivation. Members of VSLAs use the funds for a broad range of investments, including purchase of fertilizers allowing them to increase their yield, start-up capital for new businesses, expansion of existing businesses, starting new cocoa farms, rehabilitating old cocoa farms, and hiring laborers. The social fund helps with emergencies such as illness, hospitalizations, or a death in the family.
Women are now active in Cocoa Life at the community level, and women in the group support the other women during harvesting and pruning. The most rewarding part of my work is when I see my other sisters applying new skills on their farms. I'm proud of them and all the women in our community. They are great role models for the next generation and I hope to inspire my sons and daughters to grow up to be cocoa farmers too.
Those who participate in the Cocoa Life programs have realized significant increases in their crop yields. We can then not only support our families, but also give back to our community. It helps women build confidence in their abilities to be cocoa farmers, and through this program, communities are encouraged to lead their own development. These are amazing accomplishments.
FROM OUR PARTNER STEPHANIE BARRIENTOS
"Gender inequality and a traditional viewpoint that women's role is subordinate in farming are deep-rooted in cocoa communities. At the same time, research has found women are engaged in activities that enhance cocoa yields and quality, including early plant care and post-harvest fermentation and drying. However, they face specific challenges, and their role in family farm labor is unrecognized. Promoting a cultural shift to ensure gender equity in the cocoa-chocolate value chain is central to guaranteeing future resilience of supply and ensuring future generations find the occupation attractive."
Stephanie Barrientos, professor at the University of Manchester's Global Development Institute