This week, Mars Chocolate fulfilled the pledge we made in March to sign the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles. Signing these principles is one significant step in the plan of action we developed to help empower women in cocoa growing communities around the world.
We are pleased to join other corporate leaders in signing a statement of support for the UN Women Empowerment Principles. We are especially encouraged that among the principles, there is a specific focus on designing supply chains that empower women and promoting equality through community initiatives, since Mars Chocolate strongly believes such efforts will have a long-term, positive effect on the well-being of women in cocoa communities around the world.
The plan of action for empowering women that we agreed to with Oxfam America builds on a foundation of leadership the company has built to empower women across the supply chain. Addressing the socio-economic challenges that women and families in cocoa communities face requires a comprehensive and holistic approach, and our Sustainable Cocoa Initiative is one model that we believe will help improve the quality of life for farmers and their families. Our effort is guided by a principle of putting farmers first, and our aim is to make them more productive through better research, a comprehensive training program, and a strong certification protocol.
Women invest significantly greater proportions of their disposable income in family and community well-being, which is why we believe that empowering women will have an important impact. Women’s economic empowerment is a tool for gender equity in its own right, and also provides a powerful multiplier effect for the broader well-being of children, families and communities. Within our Vision for Change program in Côte d’Ivoire, Mars Chocolate is working with women leaders in their communities in the Soubré region of that country to help develop community engagement plans and listening to them outline the concerns they have for the women they represent. Recently, Mars Chocolate funded six economic development projects within Vision for Change to train women in developing local enterprises, such as animal rearing and crop production, which will help families meet their nutritional needs as well as increase the income of women who sell surplus production in local markets.