Women’s Empowerment Projects — Doing Our Part | Mars, Incorporated
Empowering Women in Cocoa Communities



Women provide nearly 45 percent of the labor in cocoa supply chains, but do not benefit from training or access to resources, such as fertilizers and better plants. On family farms, women often perform unpaid labor and are rarely acknowledged as farmers. They also experience frequent discrimination and inequality in community and household decision-making.

The Women’s Empowerment Plan is working with communities participating in our flagship demonstration project Vision for Change (V4C), in Côte d'Ivoire. The plan includes commitments on training women, helping them diversify their incomes, increasing their leadership and participation in community development and engaging the broader community to support women. We also are rolling out programs in West Africa, Indonesia and elsewhere.

What we mean by women’s empowerment:

  • Increasing women’s access to economic and social opportunities
  • Providing resources to help women farmers to help improve yields and incomes
  • Enabling women to make decisions in cocoa farming communities and households

“Cocoa is a good business if you can take care of it in a good way. With good agricultural practices, coaching, and the Mars productivity package, I can make all my cocoa trees have good pods. Cocoa helps me and my family live better,” said Hajjah Ros, a female cocoa farmer from the village of Cendana Hijau near Wotu, South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

See the full Mars Women’s Empowerment Plan

Sustainable Cocoa Initiative (SCI)

Mars Chocolate is working to create a sustainable cocoa supply chain through its Sustainable Cocoa Initiative (SCI). The SCI consists of programs to boost productivity and improve farming communities in cocoa-producing regions, including in West Africa and Asia. Empowering women — financially and socially — is critical to achieving sustainability goals. The SCI twin-pillar approach of productivity and community development is considered an effective way to help farming communities, including women and children, and has been broadly adopted by the industry.

Read more about our cocoa work

Vision for Change (V4C)

V4C is Mars Chocolate’s flagship demonstration program in the Soubré region of Cote d’Ivoire. We are exploring the best ways to support farmers to become more productive, working through our network of Cocoa Development Centers (CDCs) and Cocoa Village Centers (CVCs) in partnership with international donor agencies, governments and suppliers. CDCs serve as a distribution and training hub, providing agricultural training, good quality plants, fertilizers and pesticides to farmers. In some areas, CDCs are linked with CVCs — small independent businesses run by local entrepreneurs trained by a CDC. The CVCs sell approved plants and train smaller farmers.


“Thanks to the Vision for Change project, I’m now harvesting 800 kilograms of cocoa per hectare, twice what I used to produce!”

— MRS. BAMBA ASSIATA Cocoa Farmer, Kragui

Working With ICRW & CARE

In June 2015, Mars Chocolate began work with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and CARE International on two new projects to empower women in cocoa communities. The partnerships are part of the Mars Women’s Empowerment Plan, which has specific commitments to empower women economically and socially.

Our project with CARE works in more than 25 cocoa communities to provide loans and access to finance for women. Within these communities, the project also focuses on engaging the entire community in dialogues to change the way women are culturally treated within the household and the community.

“Our partnership with Mars Chocolate will not only empower women, but also will engage men and boys on gender equality. This builds on our research and experience that to reach transformative change, we have to tackle the underlying causes that limit women’s empowerment, and influence the structures which inhibit their participation in cocoa farming communities.” — Dr. Helene Gayle, CEO and President of CARE

The project with ICRW studies global evidence on what works to empower women economically, with a focus on agricultural supply chains. They also help Mars Chocolate develop a framework for monitoring progress on women’s empowerment as we transition and scale up these programs.

“Mars is committed to improving the lives of women cocoa farmers and strengthening and broadening the impact of their programs. As the world’s leading applied research institute focusing on women and girls, ICRW is excited to partner with Mars to monitor and measure the impact of their women’s empowerment plan.” — Katherine Fritz, Director of Global Health and Development at ICRW


“As a Cocoa Village Center Operator, I’m trained in agronomy and basic accounting. Thanks to the Mars project I’ve become more responsible. I allow myself to do projects without asking for advice. I’ll buy myself a laptop and then a vehicle… and for that I’m not counting on anyone’s help.”

— HELENE KLA AMENAN Cocoa Village Center Operator, Boubouo

Mars Chocolate, through the Mars Women’s Empowerment Plan, works in partnership with other organizations to empower women in cocoa communities.