At Kuapa Kokoo, the cocoa farmers’co-operative in Ghana that owns 45% of fair trade chocolate brand Divine, the encouragement and mentoring of women has always been a priority, and thousands of women have learned income-generating skills that help bring money into the family when there is no cocoa to sell.
About a third of Kuapa Kokoo’s membership (more than 80,000 farmers) are women – yet, although many women have now risen to positions at national level, the proportion of women members is not yet reﬂected in the elected roles farmers can contest within the organisation. A survey shows that a signiﬁcant cause may be the disparity in the literacy levels between men and women – illiteracy amongst the men is 65% while amongst the women it is 85%. To address this, Kuapa Kokoo is using ﬁnance from Divine’s Producer Supporting and Development fund and support from the Ministry of Non Formal Education to run adult literacy classes primarily focused on women.
Just learning to write your name puts you in this position of being able to sign for things, and recording transactions. Learning to recognise and read a few local and common words is a step forward in negotiating your way around your world.
As Lydia Duﬁe in Sikaman says: "Now I can see which bus I need to take me home."
When women gather for literacy lessons and skills training they learn more than what the class is teaching. It conﬁrms to them how important and useful education is and makes them more likely to insist on their children going to school and not working on the farm. Other learning is shared too.
Lucy Boatemaa of Anwona village says: "Now I understand more about teenage pregnancy I want to make sure my children don’t have to go through what I had to."
These literacy and numeracy classes will be rolled out across the membership – and if the ﬁrst few lessons can have such a great impact – imagine what women can do when they have reading and writing in their grasp.
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