The Fairtrade Foundation has announced that the Co-op and the Compass Group UK & Ireland have committed £100,000 in funding for an innovative new programme to improve women’s opportunities in cocoa communities in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa.

The Women’s School of Leadership was launched by the producer network Fairtrade Africa at an event held in May in Côte d’Ivoire to coincide with International Mother’s Day.

“We welcome this investment from Co-op and Compass Group UK & Ireland, which will enable Fairtrade Africa’s first ever Women’s Leadership School to become a catalyst for change, increasing women’s agency in leadership and contribute to changing social norms which are key barriers to women’s participation in business,” said Dr TsiTsi Choruma, COO, Fairtrade Africa. “Currently in Côte d’Ivoire, where this project is launching, women make up 68% of the labour force, yet only 25% own land, as such few have roles in the business, access to revenue generated from cocoa or even bank accounts – that’s why this support from UK businesses is just so vital for us to begin redressing the balance for agricultural communities.”

In a further move to support farmers, all of the Co-op’s chocolate confectionery will be Fairtrade from the end of May 2017 and all the cocoa it buys for own-label products will be sourced on Fairtrade terms.

At the launch of the initiative, Brad Hill, Fairtrade strategy manager at Co-op said: “Fairtrade lies at the heart of our values and we are proud to be Fairtrade pioneers, championing what we believe is right. By partnering with Fairtrade, we are addressing the issues of an unsustainable cocoa industry and taking steps to address the Sustainable Development Goal 5 of gender equality.”

Meanwhile Compass Group UK & Ireland has launched a new range of EatFair snack bars and are committing 5p from each bar to support the new programme.

“Our new-look EatFair snack bars are not only delicious, but also ethically sourced,” says Louise Pilkington, marketing director at the group. “We are committed to raising £50,000 through donating 5p from each snack bar we sell and we hope this will go a long way to improving gender equality in cocoa growing communities through the Fairtrade Africa’s Women’s Leadership school. As a big business we’re dedicated to sourcing ethically and EatFair is the perfect way to demonstrate some of the good work we’re doing.”


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Jane Wolfe

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Natural Products News deputy editor Jane Wolfe re-joined NPN in 2013 having previously worked for the magazine as a sub and freelance journalist from its Steyning beginnings.

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