26 February, 2016

Growing our Cocoa, Raising our Voices

Fairtrade farmers carrying cocoa pods
by Fairtrade Africa

Twenty-five women cocoa farmers documented and dramatized their challenges and aspirations in a short documentary putting the focus on gender and rights in rural Western Africa.

"So the cocoa has been sold, but it´s not me who sold it. I didn't earn anything for it," explains Léocadie Voho. "We do all the work, but it's the men who sell the cocoa. We have never sold cocoa. We, the women, work but we don't earn anything."

Voho is one of the 25 women cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire who documented and dramatized their experiences, challenges and aspirations as women in cocoa growing communities in the short film "Growing our Cocoa, Raising our Voices" seen below.

Women from the ECOOJAD and CAPEDIG Cooperatives worked with a Dutch research institute and Fairtrade to learn how to use the cameras and microphones. They practiced interviewing each other and speaking on camera. They discussed and debated which topics and issues to showcase in the film, and developed the storyboards together. After four intensive days of training, the women returned to their villages to shoot their films on location.

The final film, a mixture of theater and documentary, captures the challenges faced by women who work hard to produce cocoa, but see little of the direct benefit from sales. The women express their practical needs for higher prices and for better access to pesticides and transport for their crop. They talk about their hopes to become a more active part of their cooperatives, and interview the cooperative president and director to raise their concerns with them.

The true value of the film, according to Tsitsi Choruma, Chief Operating Officer at Fairtrade Africa, is that "giving women a voice, enables confidence building and strengthens their self-esteem and their ability to negotiate their rightful space in communities."

And as Ahou Héléne N'guessan, one of the cocoa farmers involved says, "Before, women here were in the dark. Our film brings us into the light."

Watch the making of film here:

The final film will be used as a tool for training and to spark discussion and debate on gender issues with other cooperatives across Africa and beyond.

Read the complete article at AllAfrica.com.

You have the opportunity to chat live with Fairtrade gender expert, Tsitsi Chormua, on the March #FairtradeChat. Find all the details here.

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