Bridging gender gaps


Although there is a relatively high representation of women in cocoa farming, the gap between men and women in terms of wages and support, such as skills training and financing, remains broad. Women are often not recognised for their contributions and do not have direct control over most of the income that is earned by the household, limiting their opportunities. This makes many - particularly younger - women financially dependent. 


Women also struggle with issues such as access to land, which has particularly limiting consequences for single women. It can be hard for programmes to accurately capture and respond to these needs, for example, when training sessions are organised at times when women and mothers are looking after children, among other obstacles. 


ECOM has endorsed the Gender Equity Index (GEI) tool to assess its farmer support practices and our own internal gender inclusive strategies since 2021. The tool, designed with Equal Origins, has enabled us to identify key areas where we can have a positive impact for women. The GEI takes the form of a 67-question diagnostic tool and after a successful pilot in Peru and Ghana, it was launched in early 2022.

The GEI focuses on where ECOM can provide support in five key areas:


  • - Organisational capacity 

  • - Strategy and analysis 

  • - Reach women 

  • - Benefit women 

  • - Empower and transform 


Our next steps will be to have 100% of the origin-sourced supply chain covered by the GEI and respective improvement plans in place by 2025. 


In Ghana, we have been working with USAID to strengthen women’s land rights, promote gender equality and empower women in the cocoa value chain. The programme has a particular focus on developing ECOM staff capacity at management and field levels and to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into core business operations. In July 2022, we facilitated training for 26 ECOM field staff and five district stakeholders from the Department of Social Welfare and Ministry of Agriculture. At the three-day event, a focus on gender topics covered the following areas: 


  • - Happy family, happy cocoa vision 

  • - Gender and cocoa farming 

  • - Division of labour and resource control 

  • - Decision-making 

  • - Power dynamic and gender-based violence 

  • - Joint vision for a better life




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