Women play an important role in the cocoa sector and great value can come from investing in them. The Mondelēz Cocoa Life programme showcased the discrepancies in livelihood and access between men and women in cocoa-growing communities. This ensured that the enterprise could systematically work to eradicate these inequalities and accomplish Step 3: Address Adverse Impacts of the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence process.

The most significant gaps highlighted by the Mondelēz Cocoa Life programme were that women were earning a lower income, did not have access to training and education, had lower economic empowerment, owned less land and did not have decision-making power.

Actions undertaken

Mondelēz developed Women’s Economic Resilience (WER) focused action plans in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia and the Dominican Republic. The plans consisted of concrete actions:

  • Increasing women’s access to farm inputs, land ownership and membership in farmer organisations,
  • Promoting leadership positions for women in accordance with the Community Development Committees and Community Action Plan processes,
  • Ensuring the participation of young women, at least 50%, in youth orientated programming,
  • Helping women improve their livelihoods through access to finance, entrepreneurial skills and more.

“The report found that the Cocoa Life programme was successfully promoting women’s leadership though various initiatives.”


In 2015, CARE International was commissioned to review the current role of women in the cocoa supply chain. The report found that the Cocoa Life programme was successfully promoting women’s leadership through various initiatives such as:

  • Effective training of women farmers on topics such as utilising Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs),
  • Enabling women to have better control over their income which led to more savings and investments,
  • Improved financial literacy, resilience and household incomes,
  • Women being more active in decision making processes locally and nationally.

In 2019, the Cocoa Life programme reported that 1967 VSLAs were operationally a part of the programme, consisting of 72%, of 121,167 community members, being women. Further research revealed that Ghanaian VSLA participants had increased their total savings by 24%. In Indonesia, 87% of the participants have built a savings buffer for three months or more that would cover essential needs.

As we promote women’s empowerment across all key intervention areas, we’ve tried to ensure we understand how and why interventions have the effect they do on local women, and how the whole community can be affected.”

Application to other enterprises

Mondelēz found that empowering women and equipped them with the means to work fairly and equally within the cocoa sector was at the core of mitigating adverse impacts on the company. The sustained focus on Women’s Economic Resilience, especially through the VSLAs, resulted in increased cocoa yields with some areas doubling their normal output. This demonstrates how crucial women are in supply chains and so it would be highly valuable for other enterprises to also apply the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence process to their business practices.

This case study was written in collaboration with Plan International and Partnering for Social Impact.