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Some see Fairtrade chocolate. We see routes out of poverty for female farmers in Ghana.

As is evident from field work in Ghana, Fairtrade is having a positive impact on some women farmers but specific challenges remain, which relate mostly to entrenched gendered divisions in societies. And whilst Fairtrade certification was not initially designed to address these kind of issues, this is now one of its key principles.

Dr Roy Maconachie, Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Cocoa production is a mainstay for the Ghanaian economy and up to 70 per cent of its workforce are women. All too often, however, women’s role in cocoa production is unrecognised and significantly undervalued.

One of our researchers, Roy Maconachie from the Centre for Development Studies, spent time in Ghana on an innovative research project designed to tell the story of the women behind your Fairtrade chocolate bar and to enable them to share their hopes for the future.

By turning the lens on their lives, Roy taught women farmers the skills they needed to capture on camera the conditions they faced and their struggles for recognition in a deeply patriarchal society.

He helped them document their stories for a short film which has been viewed around the world – helping to give voice to group of farmers in a remote part of West Africa, whose concerns are rarely heard by policy audiences.

Their film shows the enormous contributions women cocoa farmers make, but also the common challenges they face including access to land, capital and their chronic inability to reap the financial rewards of their efforts.

More should be done, the research suggests, to highlight the fundamental role women are playing, and Roy is now working with Fairtrade Africa and regional policy-makers to improve understanding and incentivise a change in practice though its certification scheme.

Related links

Find out more about Roy Maconachie

New film documents impacts of Fairtrade for female farmers in Ghana