What do Brazil, Ghana, and India have in common?

They are all key raw material origins and operations and business hubs, and all have growing movements of women assuming leadership positions and trying to find their voice.

What does this mean for a program like Cocoa Life?

Women in these markets are working with a few global companies including the luxury women’s clothing brand Maiyet, Brazilian-based marketer of beauty products Natura, and our own Mondelēz International, all of whom are serious about strengthening the supply chain.

Although luxury clothing, makeup, and snacks are arguably distinct sectors, we shared common themes that define best practices in eliminating gender bias, including: understanding the gender context, equipping women with knowledge and tools, and partnering with unusual suspects.

Cocoa Life takes a multi-stakeholder approach, working together with NGOs and suppliers, and through chocolate industry platforms like the World Cocoa Foundation, and alongside other chocolate companies in a pre-competitive way, to ensure women are not only fully participating, but are taking leading roles in the supply chain.

Even in areas where women are up against deeply-rooted traditions that have historically marginalized them, Mondelēz, Maiyet, and Natura are consistently empowering women to achieve anything they can conceive. Undoing negative thoughts they have been told as girls is a big part of the solution.

In reflecting on the women of Cocoa Life, their challenges are deeply personal for me and I see myself in them. Ghana was home to the transatlantic slave trade which defines my ancestry. The fate that brought me to the U.S. could have just as easily placed me in West Africa — possibly in a cocoa-growing community. I've been afforded a great deal of opportunity, including the ability to speak my mind alongside men, earn a fair wage, and be recognized for my contributions both professionally and personally.

This is my aspiration for the women of Cocoa Life.