When we invest in women, we invest in those who invest in everybody else,

Melinda Gates

Investing in women has positive impacts on children’s protection and welfare. When women earn income, it is primarily spent on their families; children’s education, nutrition, basic household needs and also on their communities.

According to the World Bank, “studies show that when income is in the hands of the mother, the survival probability of a child increases by about 20% in Brazil, and in Kenya, a child will be about 17% taller, because mothers invest more of their income in health and nutrition.” Another study indicated that in Côte d’Ivoire, a $10 increase in women’s income has as much effect on child health and nutrition as an increase of $110 in a man’s income. Increasing in women’s economic empowerment, also increases children’s school attendance and school enrolment.

Achieving gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls, is the goal of Sustainable Development Goal 5. This is a human right which has far reaching consequences on poverty reduction, inequality, children’s education and development.

Women in many cocoa-growing communities are still economically disadvantaged. In Ghana, women cocoa farmers are 25 percent less likely to have received technical training in the past year (and worldwide, it is estimated that women only receive 5 percent of extension services and technical training). The ICI Labour Market Research Study also found that women cocoa farmers in Ghana had far fewer years of schooling, less access to productivity programmes, used less fertiliser, less adult labour, lower labour productivity and consequently had lower yields and production than their male counterparts. Hiring adult labour was costly for women, and to compensate, they used a higher number of children’s work days than men cocoa farmers. The study also found that women farmers in Ghana had a higher risk of using hazardous child labour.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the situation is not much different. Women only own 25 percent of the cocoa plantations, despite making up approximately 68 percent of the labour force and only earn 21 percent of the income generated.

Increasing women’s economic empowerment in cocoa-growing communities is therefore key to ensure child protection and children’s well-being. This is why ICI trains women on literacy and marketing skills and also supports women to develop their own income-generating activities, such as rice farming, vegetable farming, soap and jewellery making. This results in increased income for women and improved school attendance and protection for children. ICI also sets up community service groups which provide more affordable adult labour for constrained farmers and reduces reliance on children’s labour, especially on hazardous tasks.  

For further information and findings from the Labour Market Research Study 

For a full list of the UN Sustainable Development Goals see here. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs


World Bank, “Why is women’s economic empowerment important for development?” Briefing note on World Bank website”, p.1

World Bank/FAO/IFAD (2008) “Executive Summary: Investing in women as drivers of economic growth.” In: Gender in agriculture sourcebook. World Bank: Washington D.C., p.2

IFPRI Discussion Paper 01294. October 2013. Women's Empowerment and Nutrition. An Evidence Review. Mara van den Bold. Agnes R. Quisumbing.

Oxfam Discussion Papers (Ama Marston). March 2016. Women’s Rights in the Cocoa Sector: Examples of Emerging Good Practice. p.7

ICI (2016) M. Vigneri & R. Serra. Researching the Impact of Increased Cocoa Production on the Child Labour Risk and Labour Market in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

African Development Bank. 2015. Economic Empowerment of African Women through Equitable Participation in Agricultural Value Chains, quoted in Oxfam Discussion Papers (Ama Marston). March 2016. Women’s Rights in the Cocoa Sector: Examples of Emerging Good Practice. p.7