ISM Event on Gender and Living Income

On Sunday, January 28, 2024, the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) hosted an event at the ISM, the world’s largest trade fair for sweets and snacks, in Cologne, titled “Together Towards a Living Income – Gender-Sensitive Approaches in the Cocoa Value Chain.”

Women in Focus: Kick-Off Event for the Year’s Theme “Living Income” Demonstrates the Need for Gender-Sensitive Approaches in the Cocoa Sector

During a panel discussion, members of GISCO and experts discussed the challenges women face in the cocoa sector and strategies to achieve a living income. The event at the International Sweets and Snacks Fair (ISM) in Cologne marked the beginning of a two-year focus on “Inclusive Strategies for Living Income” by GISCO.

The main goal of the event was to highlight the achievement of a living income in the context of gender equality. Forum members and guests discussed the challenges and responsibilities of all actors along the supply chain. The conversation revealed why female cocoa farmers face different conditions than men, necessitating gender-sensitive strategies.

Evelyn Bahn, Deputy Chair of GISCO, welcomed the participants and highlighted the challenges faced by female cocoa farmers: “They often lack land rights, and their cocoa plots are much smaller than those managed by men. At the same time, women face significantly higher production costs due to their dependence on external labor and lack of access to financing.”

The event was opened by Dr. Ariane Hildebrandt, Head of Division at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Leticia Ama-Kowoa Yankey, Head of the Ghanaian Women’s Cooperative Cocoa Mmaa, and Nana Kwasi Barning Ackah, Project Manager at SEND Ghana, provided practical examples of successful approaches. The experts offered valuable insights on empowering women in the cocoa value chain: connecting women to cooperatives and forming savings groups are two examples. The NGO SEND Ghana pursues a gender-sensitive approach to tackle the challenges faced by women in the cocoa sector. Their approach aims for men and women to jointly recognize their household roles and agree on a distribution of tasks. Yankey emphasized that successful women-led cooperatives benefit not just women, but the entire community. She noted that female cocoa farmers often act more environmentally conscious and invest in their farms and children’s education.

Jiselle Steele, Private Sector Gender Advisor at Oxfam, gave GISCO members recommendations: Approaches aimed at questioning and changing existing gender roles require time to effect sustainable change. However, they always start with a clear commitment, followed by a thoughtful plan that includes concrete goals and activities. A crucial factor is the active involvement of local communities from the outset in project work. To measure progress and ensure transparent communication, data must be collected in a gender-disaggregated manner.

The closing remarks were given by Dr. Artur Ickstadt, Head of Division 424 at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

The event underscores the commitment of GISCO members to an inclusive and sustainable cocoa value chain in the pursuit of a living income. The insights and findings from the discussion will contribute to the development of inclusive strategies to achieve a living income over the next two years.

We thank all participants for the engaging conversation.

Pressemitteilung - ISM 2024