'The Invisible Women Behind Our Chocolate'


Fairtrade released a new report for 2020 focused on the invisible women behind our chocolate, highlighting living incomes.

Fairtrade Fortnight, takes place over two weeks each year at the end of February and start of March. Thousands of individuals, companies and groups across the UK come together to share the stories of the people who grow our food and drinks – people who are, unfortunately, often exploited and underpaid.

In 2019, Fairtrade launched it’s campaign calling on U.K. Government and companies to ensure cocoa farmers earn living incomes by 2030, in line with the UN’s Global Goals to end poverty.

During Fairtrade Fortnight 2020 they continued the campaign to raise awareness of the struggles of cocoa farming and to demand living incomes for cocoa farmers. This is not only a luxury, it’s a human right.

The UK has the second-highest consumption of any other European country, next to Germany, and the industry is worth an estimated £4bn a year.

In Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where most of the world’s cocoa beans are grown by approximately 2.5million smallholder farmers, a typical cocoa farmer earns under 75p a day.

Women make up two thirds of the labour force and yet only a quarter have access to their own land. Those who do own their land tend to have smaller, more remote and less productive farms.

Women have it especially hard and earn as little as 23p per day way below the extreme poverty line of £1.40 a day and a lot less than the typical cocoa farmer if they were men.

even though, on top of all of their caring, cleaning, cooking and childcare
responsibilities, women are working on average 30% more hours a day than men.

Catherine David, Head of Commercial Partnerships, Fairtade Foundation

Fairtrade pledges in their campaign the following:

  • An updated agenda for action that builds on the progress that’s been made over the last year towards a living income in cocoa. But it also recognises the challenges facing these women.
  • Renew call on governments, chocolate companies, traders, and retailers alike to set ambitious, timetabled commitments to reach a living income in cocoa.
  • Call for specific action to address the situation of women cocoa farmers, especially those who are particularly disempowered, or invisible. All policy and programme interventions in cocoa should address the challenges facing women cocoa farmers, with tailored action plans and strategies.

Recommendations are made to the UK Government:

  • Play a leadership role and join the Alliance on Living Incomes in Cocoa by the end of 2020
  • Support Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) in cocoa
    • At a global level, Fairtrade is calling on the European Union (EU) to pass legislation that requires all companies placing cocoa or cocoa products on the EU market to enact mandatory due diligence on human rights, child labour and the effects of cocoa production on the environment.
    • Though Britain is leaving the EU, they urge the UK Government to bring forward HRDD regulations that align with these proposals, and include similar bilateral arrangements in any new trade deals with cocoa origin governments
  • Make sure interventions on the ground reach women
    • The Department for International Development (DFID) should put achieving living incomes and wages at the heart of its Economic Development Strategy, supporting programmes and businesses that take living income seriously.
    • This report calls on DFID, working with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and the chocolate industry, to design, implement and pilot gender-sensitive programmes that would improve women’s economic empowerment.

Fairtrade also call on UK-based chocolate companies, traders and supermarkets to:

  • Join the Alliance on Living Incomes in Cocoa
  • Support the introduction of HRDD legislation in the UK and across Europe
  • Design and implement gender-sensitive programmes that would help enhance the economic empowerment of women cocoa farmers
  • Commit to sourcing their cocoa on Fairtrade terms as a first step
  • Commit to the goal of ensuring that cocoa farmers receive a living income by 2030


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