DEERFIELD, Ill., April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Mondelez International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MDLZ) today announced new commitments to promote women's empowerment by extending its reporting on gender rights in cocoa farming, ensuring a consistent approach to gender programs in key cocoa origin markets and advocating for industrywide action.
The commitments build on the company's five years of experience promoting women's rights in cocoa production and are part of Mondelez International's Cocoa Life sustainability program - a $400 million, 10-year effort launched in November 2012 and based on its successful Cocoa Partnership in Ghana.
"Gender equality benefits everyone and is essential if cocoa communities are to thrive," said Christine McGrath, Vice President of External Affairs and Cocoa Life at Mondelez International. "Our experience shows an increased involvement of women in the supply base leads to improved financial management by farmers, better education for youth, more sustainable, thriving communities and, over time, reduced child labor. Promoting women's empowerment has been a cross-cutting theme in Cocoa Life since 2008. Today, we commit to share our experience and to advocate for collaborative action on women's rights in cocoa."
"Oxfam welcomes Mondelez International's leadership in making clear commitments to advance women's rights," said Judy Beals, Campaign Manager for Oxfam's Behind the Brands Campaign, responding to Mondelez International's announcement. "We recognize the company's pledge to step up transparency in this area to enable the company to be more accountable and to allow independent observers to judge their progress. We look forward to seeing Mondelez International turn these commitments into measurable actions."
"Mondelez International recognizes the centrality of empowered women to ensuring thriving cocoa farming communities," said Mil Niepold, Senior Mediator, The Consensus Building Institute, and lead advisor for Mondelez International's Cocoa Life monitoring, evaluation and verification framework. "As an external adviser on Cocoa Life, my role is to help the company design a highly credible reporting system that's transparent and verified independently by experts the External Advisory Council selects. The heart of monitoring and verification, however, is the opportunity for us all to learn what works best and what more can be done to improve conditions on the ground."
Third-party reviews and value-chain assessments form the foundation for Cocoa Life, starting with a report commissioned by Cadbury in 2008: "Mapping Sustainable Production in Ghanaian Cocoa." The report highlighted gender equality as an issue to be tackled as part of any investment in cocoa sustainability and led to gender becoming a fundamental theme for the company's Cocoa Partnership since its launch in Ghana in 2008. Working with implementing partners, including CARE International and VSO, several actions have been built into the program:
To date, the Cocoa Life program in Ghana has women's groups in all 100 of its phase one communities supported by 50 trained Women Extension Volunteers. Since extending the program to 109 additional communities in 2011 and 2012, Cocoa Life is actively training and establishing women's groups in these communities. This was developed following insights that many women farmers were unable to attend training sessions run by men.
Cocoa Life ensures 50 percent of attendees at Cocoa Life Farmer Forums are women.
Since 2008, the company has been running a Cocoa Ambassadors program in Ghana. There, 25 university students - 10 women and 15 men - provide inspirational role models for young men and women in cocoa communities.
As part of the Cocoa Life program in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Mondelez International has been working with governments and civil society to develop country-level governance frameworks, including highlighting the importance of gender empowerment.
Mondelez International is pleased to confirm the following commitments:
Know and Show
In addition to our existing work in this area, we commit to conducting and publishing third-party impact assessments, including gender-based impacts based on interviews with women stakeholders, via a process of Data Gathering Reporting and Verification measuring the impact of cocoa production on women across the majority of our cocoa supply, starting with Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire by 2014.
The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and approach for this system will be published by July 2013 and our first impact assessment will be published by April 1, 2014.
The Cocoa Life Community focus area will have a specific measure addressing women's empowerment: an increase in community-level women's participation in decision-making processes.
KPIs addressing other areas where gender differences are relevant will be split by gender. So, for example, farming indicators will measure incomes and productivity by men and women.
The first report covering 300 communities in Ghana will be published by April 1, 2014.
Putting an Action Plan in Place
Based on these impact studies and our learnings since 2008 in our Ghana program, we commit to producing action plans for our origin countries, and refining our Ghana action plan, to address the most critical obstacles faced by women in the cocoa supply chain.
The framework developed in Ghana will be used as the basis to develop appropriate gender-led frameworks in other origin countries.
We will embed gender activity, including gender training, agricultural training for women cocoa farmers and work to address gender-based income discrepancies in Cocoa Life programs in all origins. We will report on progress against our women empowerment KPIs through our reporting and verification process.
We will publish action plans for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, as well as verified, gender-specific baseline data from our new Cote d'Ivoire program by April 1, 2014.
By 2018, we will publish action plans for Cocoa Life's top four origin countries.
We commit to use our leading role in the cocoa sector to continue and increase our public advocacy for women's empowerment through our engagement with key multistakeholder initiatives and with public and civil society institutions.
As part of our learning process we commit to continue sharing gender learnings from our Cocoa Life program with farmers, governments, industry (chocolate companies, cocoa processors, traders) and civil society experts, and to advocate for collaborative action to address women's empowerment.
We commit to lead sectorwide change by driving the adoption of women's empowerment and other community development best practices from Cocoa Life.
We will work with partners such as the World Cocoa Foundation, Fairtrade and the Rainforest Alliance to increase opportunities for women in the cocoa supply chain and seek opportunities to strengthen certification standards with respect to women's rights.
We will sign the United Nations Women's Empowerment Principles by Friday, April 26, 2013, in support of advancing the equality of women.
About Mondelez International Mondelez International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDLZ) is a global snacking powerhouse, with 2012 revenue of $35 billion. Creating delicious moments of joy in 165 countries, Mondelez International is a world leader in chocolate, biscuits, gum, candy, coffee and powdered beverages, with billion-dollar brands such as Cadbury, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Milka chocolate, Jacobs coffee, LU, Nabisco and Oreo biscuits, Tang powdered beverages and Trident gum. Mondelez International is a proud member of the Standard and Poor's 500, NASDAQ 100 and Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Visit www.mondelezinternational.com and www.facebook.com/mondelezinternational.
Forward Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking statements, including the impacts of the actions Mondelez International has committed to take regarding gender equality. Words such as "expects," "will," "ensures," and similar expressions are intended to identify the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond Mondelez International's control, and important factors could cause Mondelez International's actual results and impacts to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. For additional information on factors that could affect the forward-looking statements, see Mondelez International's risk factors, as they may be amended from time to time, set forth in Mondelez International's filings with the SEC, its most recently filed Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K. Mondelez International disclaims and does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement in this press release except as required by applicable law or regulation.
 In Ghana, the policy mapping process and gender strategy work took input from the University of Ghana, policy makers and government officials including the National Development Planning Commission and Ghana Cocoa Board. Regular contact is maintained with national institutions such as the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare; Ghana Cocoa Board and Department of Community Development. Cocoa Life also continues to work with District Assemblies, community-based organizations and private-sector partners. In Cote d'Ivoire, we have engaged extensively with the Ivorian government, certification partners, program implementing partners and others. Gender has been a substantial component of the program planning discussions, taking input from the situation assessment. Participating in these discussions were Mondelez International, CARE, the cocoa supplier helping to implement the project, the Conseil Cafe Cacao (Ivorian Cocoa Board), Ministry of Agriculture, the First Lady's Cabinet, Director of Health, local authorities, International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Additional stakeholders were identified for consultation and involvement at future stages. In addition, we participate directly in the Ivorian government's Public Private Partnership Platform established in 2012 to support revitalization of the country's cocoa sector.