Celebrating rural women across our value chains
Rural women play a key role in supporting their households and communities, in achieving food and nutrition security, generating income, and improving rural livelihoods and overall well-being. They contribute to agriculture and rural enterprises and fuel local and global economies*.
However, in some settings, rural women can face constraints in accessing key productive resources such as land or services, including financing*. Promoting gender equality and empowering rural women not only contributes to inclusive and sustainable economic growth but also enhances the effectiveness of poverty reduction and food security initiatives.*
October 15 marks The International Day of Rural Women. At Touton, we would like to take the opportunity to celebrate all the rural women that we work and partner with across our cocoa, coffee and ingredients supply chains. We recognise the critical role that they play for their households and towards rural development and agriculture.
As members of the United Nations Global Compact and other sectoral initiatives such as the Cocoa and Forest Initiative, we are committed, to working towards the SDGs, in particular goal n.5, to reduce gender inequality and goal n.10, to reduce inequality within and among countries, including income inequalities and ending discrimination.
One of the key objectives of our sustainability approach is to Work side by side with partner producers to facilitate sustainable agricultural production and increase living income. To achieve this objective, we support the development of Village Savings and Loan Associations or VSLAs.
VSLAs are self-managed democratic and structured groupings of people, often women, who meet regularly and save money together allowing for loan and credit capacity. Our sustainability programmes have engaged some of the women in rural Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire who play a pivotal role in establishing these associations, thereby enhancing their economic well-being, and providing them with easier access to credit, which they can use for creating a business that generates extra income and improve their livelihoods.
As explained in our recently published sustainability report, 180 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) were successfully established across our cocoa supply chains in Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire during the crop season 2022-23, enrolling a total of 4,367 members.
To better illustrate the benefits brought by VSLAs credit capacity on the ground, we have asked for feedback from one of the couples who have decided to make the most out of the programme: Mrs. Alice Arhin and her husband, Mr. Isaac Arhin, a cocoa farmer residing in Twifo Mankessim, a town situated in the Central Region of Ghana.
The couple joined a VSLA grouping and borrowed money to embark on a catfish farming venture. In addition to their earnings from cocoa production, they have successfully established an additional source of income, significantly benefiting their family. Alice Arhin explained:
“Joining the VSLA has brought a lot of benefit to our households which includes training on personal income management, improved savings culture, group management, childcare education, agronomical education, and access to loan facility from the formal financial institution (Bank).
We currently have 6 dugout earth ponds which contain 3000 fish each. Currently, we have spent over GGHC 100,000 on the whole project (approx. 8,000 euros), which we sourced from the VSLA loan system, bank, and personal funds. Fish farming is a lucrative business which does not stress the farmer when combined with cocoa production. The project has helped to strengthen our household unity of purpose, and division of labour. I recommend other families start fish farming to help reduce poverty levels faced by most farmers.
To find out more information about our sustainability Initiatives like the VSLA projects, check out our recently released Sustainability report 2022-2023 report and the latest Cocoa and Forest Initiative report.
*1. UN Women