The world’s biggest chocolate maker, Mondelez International, has committed to address the inequality facing women cocoa farmers and workers, following pressure from consumers as part of the international aid agency Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign.
Today’s announcement by Mondelez International – which owns Cadbury – comes on top of commitments last month by Mars and Nestle to address these issues. Together, Mars, Mondelez International and Nestle control 40 per cent of the global chocolate market.
More than 100,000 people around the world signed petitions and took action to urge Mondelez International and its competitors to tackle the hunger, poverty and unequal pay that women cocoa farmers experience.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the companies also faced a growing stream of calls on Facebook and Twitter urging them to act.
“Tackling the hunger and inequality faced by women cocoa farmers has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people, some of whom are earning less than $2 a day,” Dr Szoke said.
“We applaud Mondelez International’s decision to make these commitments. The company’s existing program, Cocoa Life – which aims to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers – has built a good platform for gender-sensitive sustainability initiatives, and these new commitments will expand that effort and ensure that women benefit in the same way as men.
“Oxfam will continue to monitor all three companies as they turn their pledges into specific and measurable actions.”
Oxfam welcomes Mondelez International’s commitments, including to:
- Conduct and publish third-party impact assessments of women in its cocoa supply chains to understand and show how women are faring. The company will begin by publishing impact assessments in Ghana and Ivory Coast in 2014.
- Put in place a specific action plan by April 1, 2014, that will address issues raised by the assessments and improve the working conditions in Ghana and Ivory Coast. By 2018, Mondelez International will publish action plans for the Cocoa Life program’s top four origin countries. Oxfam expects these action plans will deliver a more sustainable livelihood to women farmers and workers.
- Engage with other powerful companies and organisations in the cocoa industry to develop sector-wide programs to address gender inequality.
“This latest commitment shows that no company is too big to listen to its customers. Three of the biggest food giants in the world are changing how they operate because consumers have demanded it,” Dr Szoke said.
“We hope that the steps taken by Mars, Mondelez International and Nestle offer an example to the rest of the food and beverage industry that consumers are paying attention to how companies affect the communities in which they work.”
The Behind the Brands campaign will continue to highlight areas where companies are not living up to their responsibilities to communities. New actions launch later in 2013.
Specifics on the commitments from all three companies can be seen at: http://www.oxfam.org.au/behindthebrands
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