Previously largely male-dominated, the position of Community Facilitator is increasingly occupied by women, and they've won everyone's admiration.
"Women are determined to achieve their goals and are more reliable. In the communities, children trust them easily," said Coulibaly Inza, Monitoring and Remediation Agent at the ESCOPAG cooperative in Zoukougbeu since 2022. He works with 5 female Community Facilitators and explains the good understanding and working relationship between them: " Our strength lies in communication. Women provided over 70% of the data identifying cases of child labour," he said.
According to the Director of the cooperative, Ouattara Ama Sylvie, the choice to hire women came from the Board of Directors: "The Board of Directors decided to work with women about two years ago. This move was encouraged by Tony's Open Chain, which also funded the costs related to recruitment. The women chosen are members of the community and are often from farming families. It wasn't easy to integrate them because the industry was male dominated for a long time. Initially, men were sceptical about working with young women. However, these women work very well, and the collaboration is going smoothly with male Community Facilitators."
N'guessan Aya Adeline, mother of 5 children and a Community Facilitator, explains what her work consists of: " I am the direct link between the community where the cocoa farmers live and the cooperative. I report on the producers' situation and check that the children are not involved in dangerous work. I have discussions with the producers about the behaviour they should adopt with their children," she said.
For her, being a Community Facilitator is an exciting profession that allows her to contribute to the community and in particular to the protection of children. She works with passion and takes time to listen and respond to producers' concerns. She is also supported by her husband, who does not hesitate to accompany her to areas that are difficult to access or at risk. "There are areas where I go alone, but there are some that are not accessible, and I am accompanied by my husband. With his support, I do my job."
Her husband, Diakité Adama, says he appreciates what she does, as well as the extra income she earns. He also talks about the reasons that led him to accompany her in the community: "I like the work she does. Many women here don't know how to ride a motorcycle. Sometimes my wife gives me a ride and I enjoy it. If it bothered me, I'd refuse," he told us. He goes on to say that his wife is always ready to go to work and asks him for advice on her professional activities.
Diabaté Karidja, another Community Facilitator explains that the position has given her independence, initiative and courage: "This job has allowed me to be independent. Before, it was my parents who did everything for me; I'm no longer shy as a result of doing community outreach. In town, people think I'm brave, and I'm proud that we women are doing this work too," she said.