MOUNT OLIVE, N.J., Dec. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In April, Mars Chocolate signed the United Nations Women's Empowerment Principles as a demonstration of their commitment to empowering women in the cocoa sector. As part of its commitment and to promote the principle of "Mutuality," Mars Chocolate is releasing a gender assessment regarding women cocoa farmers in Cote d'Ivoire. The assessment in its entirety is available at www.cocoasustainability.com.
"The Sustainable Cocoa Initiative is committed to improving the wages and quality of life of cocoa farmers through training and community development. Women cocoa farmers are an integral part of ensuring that cocoa is sustainable, now and in the future, and Mars Chocolate is committed to empowering and supporting them," said Afzaal Malik, Mars Vice President for Corporate Affairs & Sustainability.
The assessment offers the following conclusion: "The long-term sustainability of cocoa rests in part on the ways the sector capitalizes on the full potential of women who labor long hours on cocoa farms, often to cultivate both cocoa and food." The assessment evaluates the business case for empowering women farmers in cocoa communities and provides a roadmap for enhancing Mars Chocolate's existing efforts to engage women in the Vision for Change program in Cote d'Ivoire. The company will embed its efforts to empower women cocoa farmers into Vision for Change, which will directly reach 150,000 farmers in Cote d'Ivoire through its network of Cocoa Development Centers and Cocoa Village Centers.
"There are important reasons for the industry to support the advancement of women in Cote d'Ivoire," said Andrew Harner, Mars Chocolate's Global Cocoa Vice President. "As the report suggests, research shows that women are more likely to spend additional income they control on things that ultimately help the community, including food, healthcare, and education of their children. Furthermore, there is evidence that empowering women will lead to greater productivity, improved quality of life, and a more secure future supply chain."
According to the report, women provide 45 percent of the labor on cocoa farms in Cote d'Ivoire, but due to cultural and economic factors, are often not viewed or referred to as "farmers." In large part, due to inequitable civil liberties and cultural norms in the country, women are being held back from fully participating in the cocoa sector. To that end, Mars Chocolate is in the process of developing a full gender outreach plan, which the company will share publicly and begin to implement by April 2014.
"Helping women farmers is very much in line with Mars's principle of Mutuality, and with the guiding principle we have for the Sustainable Cocoa Initiative – putting farmers first," said Malik. "This assessment is valuable in that it informs our thinking on integrating women cocoa farmers into Vision for Change and helps us to embed into it concrete steps to empower women farmers at a scale that will make a significant impact."
About Mars, Incorporated
In 1911, Frank C. Mars made the first Mars candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen and established Mars' first roots as a confectionery company. In the 1920s Forrest E. Mars, Sr. joined his father in business and together they launched the MILKY WAY® bar. In 1932, Forrest, Sr. moved to the United Kingdom with a dream of building a business based on the objective of creating a "mutuality of benefits for all stakeholders" – this objective serves as the foundation of Mars, Incorporated today. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has net sales of more than $33 billion, six business segments including Petcare Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience, and more than 72,000 Associates worldwide that are putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance.
Mars brands include: Petcare – PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®, KITEKAT®, BANFIELD® Pet Hospital and NUTRO®; Chocolate – M&M'S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY® and TWIX®; Wrigley – DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT® and 5™ chewing gums, SKITTLES® and STARBURST® candies, and ALTOIDS® AND LIFESAVERS® mints. Food – UNCLE BEN'S®, DOLMIO®, EBLY®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® and ROYCO®; Drinks – ALTERRA COFFEE ROASTERS™, THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY™, KLIX® and FLAVIA®; Symbioscience – COCOAVIA™ and WISDOM PANEL™.
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SOURCE Mars Chocolate