As part of Mondelez International and Cocoa Life’s efforts at strengthening women’s voice in communities to actively participate in decision making, ABANTU for Development and World Vision organised a one-day forum with community women leaders on women’s leadership, participation and decision making for twenty (20) selected female community leaders from five (5) operational communities. The five operational communities included Tawiahkwaa, Brofoyeduru, Kakraka, Sarkwa and Kofiwhettey. The training was held in Tawiahkwa in the Awutu Senya District on Wednesday, May, 31, 2017 with the aim of building the capacities of the community women leaders on gender and its related concepts within the cocoa production while empowering them on ways of sustaining the Gender Dialogue Platforms (GDPs). The facilitators for the workshop were Ms. Grace Wornyo and Ms. Grace Ampomaa from ABANTU, Mr. Emmanuel Aboagye and Ms. Adwoa Gyesiwa Cleland from World Vision. The meeting began at approximately 9:30am with an opening prayer from a participant.
The meeting sought to achieve the following objectives;
- Provide an overview of Cocoa Life and the relevance of women empowerment to the Modelez/Cocoa Life project.
- Provide a basic understanding on gender issues such as sex, gender, gender balance, gender blind, fairness
- Key Gender Issues of Cocoa within the cocoa growing communities
- Relevance of gender dialogue platforms: The case of cocoa growing communities
- Welcome Address and Introductions
Ms. Adwoa Gyesiwa Cleland, a development facilitator with World Vision expressed gratitude to participants for taking time off their farming and trading activities to participate in the meeting. She was grateful for their commitment towards the meeting and the Mondelez/Cocoa Life Project. She also recounted the importance of the training and encouraged participants to participate actively in every session of the training so as to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to contribute to the positive changes in their respective communities.
Ms. Cleland, leading participants to introduce themselves
With this, she then led participants to introduce themselves and state their expectations for the workshop. The expectations of participants included:
- Identify ways of supporting their children’s education
- Addressing the gender gaps within the cocoa value chain
- Build strong relations with male counterparts
- Increase knowledge in cocoa production for their lives, families and societies
- Discuss issues confronting women
Ms. Angela Aidoo the female animator from Brofoyedru led participants through the greetings of the Gender Dialogue Platform.
3.0 Presentation I: A Basic Understanding of Gender Issues
Ms. Grace Ampomaa Afrifa made a brief presentation on the concept of gender and other related concepts such as sex, gender roles, reproductive roles, women empowerment and others. She explained gender is a social construct, subject to change and dependent on the society. On the issue of sex, Ms. Afrifa stated that sex is biological, permanent and the same from society to society. She added that gender roles are roles that are ascribed to the sexes based on the societies they come from. She remarked that because gender is capable of change, gender roles have changed over the years.
Furthermore, Ms. Afrifa stated that because women have been marginalised over the years, there is the need for women to be empowered to be able to participate and be represented in decision making processes within their various communities. She maintained that women carry the burden of care and are also impeded by their reproductive roles. Women empowerment is therefore needed to re-orient women against the negative assumptions that surround the “woman”. Certain statements were added by participants with regard to gender and its related issues:
- Children are considered the same at birth
- Gender roles are ascribed immediately the sexes of children are known
- Gender and its expectations are often unconscious
- Women have the burden of care
- Women’s reproductive roles sometimes hinder their development ‘
- There has been some improvement with regard to the issue of gender
- Gender differs from society to society
Ms. Afrifa, making her presentation
She also took participants through the concept of gender equality and women’s right in line with the objectives of the cocoa life program. Next, she led participants to discuss measures that can be put in place to aid women in cocoa farming. Some of the suggestions shared by participants include the following:
- The provision of funds and farm inputs to support women
- The availability of extension officers in women’s farms
- The provision of good cocoa seedlings for women
- Adequate training and support for women cocoa farmers
4.0 Presentation II: Presentation on Relevance of Gender Dialogue Platforms: The Case of Cocoa Growing communities
The second presentation focused on the Gender Dialogue Platforms, led by Ms. Grace Wornyo. She explained that the Gender Dialogue Platform is an innovation of the Mondelez/Cocoa Life programme, intended to create space for women within the communities to discuss developmental issues as well as issues on the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality within the cocoa sector. Ms. Wornyo took the opportunity to encourage participants to remain committed to the Gender Dialogue Platforms as a number of women have been able to support their communities as a result of the strategies developed in the Gender Dialogue Platforms. She was optimistic that the women leaders of Awutu Senya would emulate the success stories of other cocoa growing communities.
Ms. Wornyo further explained that women’s issues are cross-cutting into every aspect of their lives and they cannot be addressed single-handedly. There is therefore the need for women to come together as women to champion their needs and identify solutions to those issues. Adding to that, she clarified that the platform was however not an avenue to disrespect men or those in authority but to question the norms and practices that hinder women’s development.
Ms. Wornyo making a presentation on the Gender Dialogue Platforms
Ms. Wornyo concluded her presentation by emphasizing that the needs of women differ from community to community, therefore the responsibility lies on the various Gender Dialogue Platforms to identify the needs of their respective communities, and based on their scale of preference, address the issues one after the other. She remarked that though women have the burden of care at home, there is the need for them to allocate time for the Gender Dialogue Platform as it is a very useful way of addressing women’s issues since they own the entire process. She called on all members to respect each other’s views and build peace and understanding within the Platforms.
5.0 Role Play on Gender Issues in Cocoa Growing Communities
After the presentation, five (5) female animators treated participants to a role play depicting the gender issues faced by women in their everyday lives, in their respective cocoa growing communities and homes in general. They educated participants on the need for husbands and wives to partner to take good care of their children in relation to their education, health care, shelter and clothing. The play also urged women not to stay at home but rather venture into additional sources of livelihood and also work hard to support the home. Some lessons learnt by participants from the role play include:
- Girls should not be allowed to do all the household chores at the detriment of their education.
- Girls and boys should take care of the household chores
- Girls should be encouraged to go to school on time
- Women must work side-by-side their husbands for the development of the family
- Women must manage resources efficiently
- Child labour should not be encouraged in especially cocoa growing communities
A participant, making a contribution
- How can one access the loan facility if she is not a member of the Association?
The Association has rules and regulations that govern the administration of loans. The rule is that members put their monies together to form the association. Thus, it is only members of the association that can access the loans. I therefore entreat all non-members to join the association. The maximum number of members per group is 25. Therefore, where a group has already 25 members, people within the community can come together and call others to join. Where they reach 25, they can call on us to train the group and also provide books, susu box and other resources that will be needed to sustain the group.
- Participants were asked to share decision making processes in their various communities, to this they answered that in most cases the men meet and take decisions on their behalf with little or no input from the women. The women were then urged as women leaders to empower themselves to be able to participate in the decision making process.
- Education on gender should not be aggressive and disrespectful but approached in a more tactful manner
6.0 Group Work
The participants were later put into five (5) groups according to their respective communities to develop action plans for the formation of the Gender Dialogue Platforms in their various communities
Group 1- Tawiahkwaa
- Inception meeting with the chief and elders about the gender dialogue platform and its importance in the community
- Educate the community on the importance of collaboration between men and women for development
- Educate the community on the importance of education and child labour related issues
Group 2- Sarkwa
- Inform chief and elders about what they learned at the meeting
- Educate community about the gender dialogue platform during their weekly community meetings
- Mobilize women and men in the community interested in joining the gender dialogue platform
- Organize house to house campaign to educate community members on the importance of education
Group 3 –Brofoyedru
- Inform chief and community members about what they learned at the meeting of women leaders
- Discuss issues affecting women with men in order to develop a mutual understanding
- Educate women on importance of supporting their families
- Educate the community on the importance of education
- Inform chief and community about what they learned
- Mobilize women in the community and educate them about gender platform
- Educate the community on the importance of education and child labour issues
Group 5 Kofi Whettey
- Inform chief and community about what they learned
- Educate women to support their families
- Educate women to discuss issues with men so that they come to a mutual understanding
7.0 Evaluation and Conclusion
Ms. Adwoa Cleland led the participants through a training evaluation session. Participants expressed satisfaction at all aspects of the training, specifically:
- Presentation and content were very good.
- Facilitation was very interactive
- The general organisation of the meeting was very good