A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
In a week that will see seventy-one million pounds of chocolate sold for Easter, international agency Oxfam is accelerating its campaign targeting the world’s biggest buyer of cocoa, Mondelēz International, to address unequal pay, poverty and hunger that women farmers who supply cocoa for their products experience. On Tuesday, Mars and Nestle announced they will take steps to begin to address these issues in their own supply chains, but Mondelēz has yet to make similar commitments.
Oxfam is now focusing its campaign on Mondelēz. Advocates from Oxfam will deliver Easter eggs filled with signatures from more than 67,000 petitions to Mondelēz International headquarters in Illinois, USA. Oxfam has also placed a full-page advertisement in US print publications and will run online ads on Twitter, Facebook and via Google highlighting the company’s failure to address inequality for women in their supply chain.
“Easter is an enormously important holiday for sweet sales and Mondelēz stands to profit immensely, yet many women cocoa farmers are earning just $2 a day,” said Alison Woodhead, campaign manager for Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Campaign. “Mondelēz needs to step up and show that it takes equality for women seriously. Tens of thousands of people have already joined together to call on the company to do their part. Their competitors have already pledged to meet this challenge, but Mondelēz remains on the sidelines.”
Chocolate companies produce ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies every year. Mondelēz is the biggest global buyer of cocoa and wields immense influence over the chocolate industry and the lives of people who grow cocoa.
A recent investigation by Oxfam showed that some women in cocoa supply chains are paid less than half as much as their male counterparts, earning just 2-3 dollars a day for their labor. In one cocoa processing plant in Indonesia a worker told investigators that all of the women employees were fired after they demanded basic rights.
“The longer it takes for Mondelēz to address the inequality women face in their supply chain, the more consumers will question how serious they are about their commitments to sustainability,” said Woodhead. “The company has made investments in sustainable cocoa that deserve credit. But given the level of poverty, hunger and inequality in their supply chains surely more must be done.”
Notes to editors
1. Oxfam’s petition targeting Mondelēz, signed by more than 67,000 people is available at: www.behindthebrands.org/actnow
2. Oxfam’s investigation into inequality for women in cocoa supply chains is available at: http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/equality-for-women-starts-with-chocolate-mb-260213.pdf
3. Oxfam’s Behind the Brands ranking of food and beverage companies is available at www.behindthebrands.org
Ben Grossman-Cohen, email@example.com; 202-777-2907; 202-629-6018, @BenGroCo