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IWD2024: ITC, Dutch Embassy Celebrate Women in Cocoa

The International Trade Centre (ITC), in collaboration with the Embassy of the Netherlands, has held a day’s workshop to recognise the contributions of women in Ghana’s cocoa sector as part of activities marking this year’s International Women’s Day celebration (IWD2024).

Held under the theme ‘Empowering Women in Cocoa: Celebrating Diversity, Resilience, and Achievements,’ this year’s workshop was commemorated with an all-female panel discussion on key issues that cut across policymaking to challenges in the sector.

It also deliberated on strategic solutions to pertinent issues in the local cocoa and chocolate industries as well as highlighted the success stories of some women in the cocoa value chain. 

The ITC and Dutch Embassy’s IWD2024 workshop, among others, sought to raise awareness of the crucial role played by women in the cocoa sector, facilitate networking, and encourage collaboration among women in the industry.

Also, as part of the programme objectives, the organisers aimed to strengthen the empowerment of women in cocoa through knowledge-sharing and skill-building activities, recognise their achievements, foster a sense of pride and motivation, and spotlight opportunities for women’s empowerment in the cocoa industry

A representative of the Netherlands Embassy’s Cocoa Initiative Programme, Naomi Tuinstra, indicated the readiness of her outfit for collaboration to build the capacities of women in Ghana’s cocoa sector.

She invited suggestions and proposals on how the Kingdom of the Netherlands can better ensure the inclusion of women in their cocoa programmes.

Top among the feedback received was the need for extensive training on making finer chocolates, challenges with logistics, and affordable finance, amongst others.

The Netherlands ambassador, Jerven Verheul, outlined the lack of a domestic consumer market and a few other structural issues as impediments to chocolate production, reiterating the need and interest to invest in the sector.

He lauded the industry of Ghana’s emerging artisanal chocolatiers and also encouraged more women to venture into cocoa farming, as the country faces a decline in cocoa production.

“Cocoa production is under threat not only in Ghana but in Ivory Coast as the nation continues to grapple with a significant loss of an estimated 100,000 metric tonnes of cocoa to galamsey.

The dire situation not only spells economic turmoil but also casts a shadow of uncertainty over the future of cocoa production,” Verheul underscored.

The National Programme’s coordinator of ITC, Lawrence Attipoe, emphasised the organisation’s continued commitment to ensuring the sustainability of women-led small businesses in the cocoa sector to create wealth for women.

He describes this year’s theme, “Invest in women, accelerate progress,” as most suitable as it ties in with the goals of ITC. Attipoe commended the Netherlands Embassy for its continuous support.

‘Through the generous support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, we have been championing the course of women in chocolate-making, also tying in with the government policy to process as much of the cocoa beans as it is possible.

This, when done well, will create wealth for women and eventually translate into economic development,” he stated.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) is a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation for trade-related technical cooperation in developing countries.

Speaking on the topic “Empowering women in Cocoa,” the Technical Manager of the Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (CIGCI), Tawiah Agyarko-Kwarteng, illuminated the gender disparities in the local cocoa sector.

She emphasised the need to break down barriers that hinder women from breaking through and rising to the top.

This, Agyarko-Kwarteng believes, requires a collective effort from both genders. She called on men to stop stereotyping their female counterparts by making room for women in their field of work.

She emphasised that “men need to be intentional in promoting diversity in leadership and decision-making in the sector.”

The CIGCI technical manager called on all women to be intentional about developing themselves, embrace opportunities, and take on new challenges, but most importantly, women must learn to support each other to rise together.

She used the occasion to celebrate some outstanding women in the cocoa industry, namely Charity Sackitey of Barry Callebaut, Yaa Peprah Amekudzi of Cocoa Life, and Hajia Maria Adamu-Zibo of FEDCO, among others, outlining their contribution to the cocoa industry.

International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8 to commemorate and honour women’s accomplishments, raise awareness of gender disparities and discrimination, and promote global support for women.

The event brought together several female artisanal chocolatiers, with representation from Kamini Chocolate, 57 Chocolate, AllSave Chocolate, Edible Treats, and Decocraft.

Also present were the Programme Coordinator of Cocoa for Solidaridad, Deborah Osei Mensah; a representative of the Gender Desk at Ghana Cocoa Board, Sena Yawa Tabicca (Esq); and a cocoa farmer and founder of Cocoa Mmaa Farmers Cooperative Union, Leticia Yankey.

Amanda Hayford
Source Cocoa Post
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