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Global Development Institute

WP186/2013

Gender production networks: Sustaining cocoa-chocolate sourcing in Ghana and India

Stephanie Barrientos

Transformation of global sourcing over recent decades has significant implications for gender relations of production in the developing world. Analysis of global production networks and value chains (GPN/GVC) provides important insights into the changing dynamics of global sourcing and its embeddedness within diverse societies and countries. However, the gender dimension of this process is often overlooked. Feminist analysis provides important insights into a changing gender division of labour within global production, but rarely links it to the commercial dynamics of GPN/GVCs. This paper develops a gender production network analysis to inform a comparative examination of gender production relations in cocoa. It draws on case studies in Ghana and India. It asks in what ways are GPN/GVCs bearers of gender transformation, and what are the implications for the sustainability of quality cocoa sourcing by chocolate manufacturers? The paper finds that gendered social norms and practices in both countries mean that women’s contribution to cocoa production has long been under-valued, with women largely relegated to the position of unpaid family or casual labour. However, within the gender division of labour women do play an important role in certain activities that are increasingly recognised in the industry as critical to ensuring good yields and quality production. These are of increasing importance to consumer-focused brand name chocolate companies. Recognition and support for women’s role could make an important contribution, both to the empowerment of women cocoa farmers and workers, but also to the future sustainability of quality cocoa sourcing.