Women, youth in cocoa sector empowered for leadership roles

Tone Faugli, Chief Executive Officer – Fairtrade Norway, presenting certificate to a beneficiary

…14 beneficiaries under two modules graduate

In an effort to ensure the cocoa sector remains vibrant, with cooperatives becoming strong, inclusive, democratic and sustainable producer organisations, Fairtrade Africa has graduated 14 beneficiaries of its NORAD project.

The project was conducted under two major modules; the Women Leadership School and Youth Cooperative Managers Academy.

The Sustainable Democratic and Inclusive Cocoa Cooperatives in West Africa (NORAD) project was designed to improve the technical and democratic capacity of cocoa cooperatives and to enhance their inclusiveness by strengthening the capacity of vulnerable and excluded groups, such as women and the youth, to assume leadership positions and participate in decision-making processes.

The cocoa sector is important to the economies of Ghana and is characterised by several problems, such as poverty and gender inequality.

Cooperatives are essential to the structure of the sector and serve as an important lever to solve the many problems faced by individual farmers.

Edward Agapire, Head of Region – West Africa Network

In view of this, the NORAD project would seek to strengthen 90 beneficiaries, out of which 90 percent would be women and 30,000 indirectly from 30 cooperatives.

Also, 40 youths would be directly strengthened, with 2000 youths from 20 cooperatives to become interested in the management of producer organisations and to consider taking positions and participating in decision-making processes in their cooperatives and communities.

The Women School of Leadership seeks to empower women and strengthen their leadership in their communities to increase their decision-making power.

The goal of the Women’s Leadership School is to provide women cocoa farmers in Ghana with access to a training and mentoring programme that will help them improve their knowledge, confidence and ability to create wealth for a living wage.

The Young Cooperative Managers Academy also seeks to provide the youth with training modules on critical and relevant topics, as well as hands-on assignments, coaching and mentoring.

A trainer-of-trainer approach was used to allow the youth trainers to disseminate the training they have received to their peers and other members of the cooperative.

This objective, according to Programmes Director of Fairtrade Africa Chris Oluoch, means that current leaders are also the target of the programme in order to ensure their effective engagement in the ultimate goal of having strong and democratic organisations with transparent and inclusive governance.

Mr. Oluoch, addressing the 14 graduating beneficiaries, challenged them to apply the knowledge and skills acquired to improve their households, cooperatives and communities.

He also reiterated Fairtrade Africa’s commitment to partnering with government, NGOs, and other brands to empower women and the youth.

Head of Region – West Africa Network, Edward Akapire, told journalists that funding for the project ends next year. However, Fairtrade hopes to develop the programme into an institution that would be available for beneficiaries who would want to be part. Therefore, Fairtrade is hoping to partner other agencies to seek funding to expand the project.

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