Investing in women is key to accelerating progress in the fight against child labour in cocoa-growing communities in West Africa. Women’s empowerment helps address some of the root causes of child labour and has positive impacts on entire communities.

When women and men enjoy the same rights, systems that tackle child labour can be strengthened, and children are more likely to attend and stay in school and less likely to engage in child labour.

Let’s explore three ways in which we can invest in women in cocoa-growing communities to accelerate progress in the fight against child labour.

Involving women directly in systems that tackle child labour  

Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) are systems designed to identify children in child labour, or at risk of child labour, and put in place effective solutions for those that need it. We have seen that when women are directly involved in these systems, they are more likely to identify child labour cases than their male counterparts. Women possess strong communication and interpersonal skills and have an advantage in their interactions with children. Investing in recruiting and training women to be CLMRS agents could further enhance these systems.

Being a CLMRS agent can also be a source of empowerment for women as it offers an opportunity to further develop their professional and personal skills, build social capital, gain self-confidence, and acquire financial independence. Beyond that, the female agents can constitute role models for girls and women in the communities. As female agents break cultural norms and demonstrate that they are professionally competent, mobile and independent, they set powerful examples that can change gender stereotypes amongst cocoa farmers and their families. 

Investing in women’s economic empowerment 

When women engage in economic activities and earn additional income, their involvement in household decision-making increases, in turn, children are less likely to drop out of school and become involved in child labour. Women earning additional income can also lift whole families out of poverty and help them deal with unforeseen events, such as cocoa pod disease or price crashes, that can put children at greater risk of becoming involved in child labour.

Investing in women's economic empowerment can take many forms, including supporting them to develop income-generating activities or to access finance through Village Savings and Loans Associations or other microfinance institutions. 

Investing in education for women 

When women are more educated, they are more likely to understand the importance of education for their children’s future and hence are less likely to involve their children in hazardous work. Investing in adult literacy and numeracy classes for women can also help them manage their income-generating activities more efficiently, which can lead to an increase in household income.


All the activities mentioned above contribute to promoting gender equality and tackling discrimination. The overall impact extends beyond individual participants, benefiting entire households and the broader community. This can reduce the risk of children getting involved in child labour, improve educational opportunities for children, and enhance welfare for the entire family.