CocoaAction is a new strategy to coordinate and align the cocoa sustainability efforts of the world’s largest cocoa and chocolate companies to increase their impact and contribute to building a rejuvenated and economically viable cocoa sector, for no fewer than 300,000 cocoa farmers and the communities where they live, by 2020. The strategy focuses on Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, which together provide about 55% of the world’s current cocoa supply, and will later be extended to other cocoa producing countries.
CocoaAction’s vision for 2020 is that cocoa will be the crop of top choice for farmers in Ghana and farmer organisations enable their communities to grow economically and live sustainably. Farmers will live in communities where CocoaAction’s desired outcomes are:
- The worst forms of child labour will be eliminated
- Basic education will be available and children go to school
- Gender parity will be improved so that women have a greater influence in their communities’ decision making process.
GLOWDEP has been assigned the task of implementing the Gender and Women Empowerment Component of the Project in 33 selected communities in Western North, Sunyani, Ataase and Kasapin. The project seeks to achieve the following outcomes;
- Increased participation of women in community development issues
- Create greater gender awareness in the communities
- Improved economic status of women through IGA and Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA)
During the year (2019), GLOWDEP undertook community development programmes which were geared towards assessing the needs of women and also to increase their capacity and opportunities for empowerment.
The activities were;
- Mapping of Women Groups in communities
- Training of women groups in communities
- Gender Training for Field Officers
- Marking International Women’s Day with Cooking Competition among the women in the various districts.
- Support for VSLA Set-up and Trainings
- Support for Income Generating Activities (IGA) as requested by the women
Community Entry and Profiling, Data Collection, Sensitization and Training on Village, Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) Scheme as well as Girl Child Education and Gender and Women Empowerment Activities in the four project districts: Ataase-Edubiase, Western North, Sunyani and Kasapin were successfully accomplished.
MAPPING OF WOMEN GROUPS
Team GLOWDEP undertook mapping activities in all thirty-three (33) communities in Ataase, Western North, Sunyani and Kasapin districts.
Under this objective, GLOWDEP;
- Introduced the project to the stakeholders
- Sensitized community members about the women empowerment issues
- Identified existing Women Groups and formed new ones in areas where none existed
- Sampled and administered questionnaires towards a Gender Needs Assessment
The Needs Assessment sought to engage the women to gather information on leadership, decision-making in their farmer/ community organizations, control over income in the household and preferred Income Generating Activities.
In all the communities, GLOWDEP staff met with the Women’s Groups and had one-on-one interviews with them. A purposive sampling of a minimum of fifteen (15) women were done for this purpose. In some cases also, focus group discussions were organized.
TRAINING OF WOMEN GROUPS
During the visits, GLOWDEP provided education on the importance of girl child education. They also rolled out the Women Empowerment initiatives that Touton had put into place for their farmers. This included revamping of the Women’s Groups and preparations towards the 2019 International Women’s Day Celebration.
The GLOWDEP team led by Mrs. Victoria Norgbey, the Executive Director educated the women on the importance of giving girls the same opportunities as the boys when it comes to education.
She stressed that, gender parity had nothing to do with women taking over the roles of men in the communities, but rather it had to do with women getting equal opportunities as men and equality before the law.
She asked the participants to raise their hands if they would willingly educate their female child if an opportunity existed for only one child to be educated in the family. Sadly, only few women indicated that they would educate the girl instead of the boy. Those who opted for the girl explained that putting the girl in school would reduce the risk of teenage pregnancy. Those who opted the boy also indicated that a female child’s role in society had already being defined as a mother and no matter the level of education, the female child still ended up in the kitchen.
With this knowledge, Mrs. Norgbey sensitized the participants on the importance of giving equal opportunities to both the male and female child. She also explained that there were more reasons to send the girl child to school other that the fear of teenage pregnancy. She stated, “a girl can equally become successful if the right environment is provided for her”
Using Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey’s, “If you educate a man you educate one person but if you educate a woman you educate the whole nation”, Mrs. Norgbey educated them vividly on why both boys and girls should go to school and become important people in the society.
She suggested the following tips towards bringing up the girls in a proper way;
- Let your attention be on your girls. Encourage them to be hardworking. Be supportive of their dreams.
- Discipline them when they begin to go wayward.
- Draw them close to yourselves so that they can share their thoughts with you.
- Let them complete whatever they are doing be it in school or learning a trade. Don’t allow them to become drop outs.
- If your girl child will be successful, it depends on you too as a mother.
- Give them enough money to cater for themselves so that boys do not take advantage of their needy condition to offer basic needs for sex which may cause them to be pregnant and drop out of school.
- Teach them cooking and other skills when they are on vacation so that they are much valued.
Mrs. Norgbey also cautioned the women not to spend exorbitantly and unnecessarily during funerals. She advised that they need not sew a cloth for every funeral but rather save their monies and spend them on their children and other profitable business ventures.
She also used this opportunity to interact with the women and sought to know whether they had a Women’s group. In all the communities, they had women groups however, they were yet to select their names and choose leaders.
In all thirty three (33) communities, teem GLOWDEP guided the women towards selecting their leaders who also doubled as VSLA officers. The simple majority method where nominations were received and voting was done by the raising of hands was adopted.
GENDER TRAINING FOR FIELD STAFF
When women and men have relative equality, economies grow faster. Gender equality helps reduce the root causes of poverty and vulnerability. It contributes to sustainable growth. Gender equality leads to faster achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, recognizing women as co- drivers of Development and focusing efforts upon them and involving them at each stage of the project cycle will ensure sustainable development and long lasting benefits for society.
It is in light of these Touton, Ghana, in collaboration with Child Rights International organized a five (5) day training workshop with two (2) days focused on Gender Mainstreaming in Programmes and Projects as a strategy towards improving the understanding of gender mainstreaming in community development and other programmes. GLOWDEP was one of the facilitating teams that tackled the Gender Mainstreaming component of the training workshop.
The training took place from 21st – 25th January, 2019 at the Joyflux Hotel, Kumasi.
The workshop recorded a total of twenty-five (25) participants three (3) females and twenty-two (22) males.
The participants were from Touton (Extension Officers, Community Development Officers, (Agronomists) and the Consortium Members – All Family Life Network (AFLINE), Child Rights International (CRI) and Global Women Development Promoters (GLOWDEP).
MARKING 2019 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – COOKING COMPETITION
Touton organized a nutrition training for the women groups in the four district areas: Ataase, Western North, Kasapin and Sunyani communities. After which GLOWDEP was contracted to test their understanding of the prior training carried out in these communities. In order to visualize this, GLOWDEP had deployed its nutritionist to all thirty thee (33) communities to support participants to prepare a menu to test their understanding of the five (5) food groups and improve their knowledge on healthy diet. GLOWDEP undertook this cooking competition within the eight (8) communities in Ataase whiles Food Demonstration was organized in the remaining twenty four (24) Kasapin, Sunyani and Western North communities during the year 2019.
The significance of this activity was to
- ascertain the success of the prior training on nutrition
- improve their knowledge on healthy diet.
- test participants’ practical understanding of what was taught
- mark International Women’s day.
For each community, the participants were divided into groups with each preparing a menu for a specific class of people. The ingredients used were mainly local and indigenous such as ‘kako’, ‘kontomire’, ‘abedru’, ‘wele’ to mention a few. The groups were assessed based on different criteria (handling of ingredients during cooking process, the laying of tables, environmental sanitation, personal hygiene to mention a few) and marks awarded. After which, prizes were presented to participants.
The significance of this activity was to access the success and the positive impact the Nutrition training had on the participants and also to build team spirit among participants. It is significant that members of the communities work together so as to enable sustainable development.
SUPPORT FOR VSLA AND SET-UP
People in the rural communities have innovative minds and ideas but what they lack is identification of opportunities, knowledge and financial services and support. 80% of farmers live in rural areas with limited financial services; they have little or nothing at all to invest in agriculture for commercialization.
In most villages in Ghana, there are higher population of unemployment and limited access to financial facilities to even start or invest in commercial agriculture. Many Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), rural banks and other lenders are traditionally reluctant to finance smallholder cocoa famers as agriculture is perceived as a high risk sector.
When dealing with a dynamic group of people with extremely low level of income, it is very important to consider interventions that will directly support livelihood changes before other long term interventions. Organizing and building the financial literacy, record-keeping and savings culture of the small holder farmers is the way to go.
Child Labour Remediation has become a big challenge and must be tackled in a more sustainable way. One of the ways is through the Village Savings and Loans Association, which impacts the communities with savings habit. Where Women are even the target, it provides them with opportunities to save and invest in their additional livelihood outside the cocoa season. It empowers them to improve the nutrition and wellbeing of their children, and keep them in school throughout, thus achieving SDGs 3 and 4, alongside SDG 5 which is geared at Women Empowerment.
Thus, during the 2019 year, GLOWDEP undertook extensive Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) activities within all the thirty three selected communities in Ataase, Western North, Kasapin and Sunyani districts as part of the Gender and Women Empowerment component of the CocoaAction project sponsored by Touton, Ghana.
The purpose of the scheme was to cultivate the habit of savings and also to provide some form of capital for additional livelihoods for income generation when the cocoa was out of season.
During the period, GLOWDEP carried out sensitization and supported the set-up of the Scheme in all thirty three (33) communities. GLOWDEP undertook all the modules under the Scheme except the Share Out module which is yet to be executed at the end of the scheme’s cycle.
Community Sensitization was organized in all the communities to introduce them to the Scheme and generate their interest to be committed to it. The sessions were very participatory as participants asked questions concerning the security of the scheme among other issues.
Some testimonies of successful ongoing VSLAs in other communities also encouraged them