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Press Releases & Updates

27 MAR 2013

Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign delivers win for women cocoa farmersMars, Nestle commit to tackle inequality in supply chain, Mondelez yet to follow suit

After Oxfam launched the Behind the Brands campaign and revealed stories of neglect and unfair treatment towards cocoa women farmers and workers a month ago, more than 60,000 people signed petitions and took action to urge chocolate companies to do the right thing for women cocoa farmers. Mars and Nestle have made commitments to begin to tackle the inequality, hunger and poverty faced by women in their cocoa supply chains. However, Mondelez International, which controls 15% of the global chocolate market, has yet to follow suit in spite of consumer pressure.

Oxfam welcomes Mars and Nestle’s commitment to:
1. Conduct impact assessments on women in their cocoa supply chains in order to understand and show how women are faring. Both companies will begin their assessment in Cote d’Ivoire, the highest cocoa producing country within the next year, and will continue the assessments in the rest of their supply chain in the years following.
2. Put in place a specific action plan within a year’s time that will address issues raised by the assessments and lead to the improvement of poor conditions. Oxfam expects that these action plans will deliver better capacity towards a sustainable livelihood to women farmers and workers, along with stronger corporate policies and practices that encourage women’s empowerment throughout their cocoa supply chain.
3. Work to sign onto the UN Women's Empowerment Principles, which demonstrate the companies’ commitment at the CEO level to the empowerment of women across their entire operations by being willing to measure and publicly report on gender equity.
4. Engage with other powerful actors in the cocoa industry to develop sector-wide programmes to address gender inequality. Both Mars and Nestle will work with industry sector organisations like the World Cocoa Foundation.

“Mars and Nestle have taken important steps to show the farmers they rely on, their customers and the rest of the food industry that they care about the conditions women face in their supply chains including low pay, discrimination and unequal opportunity. We look forward to working with the two companies to ensure that they keep their promises to women farmers,” said Kalina Tsang, Senior Manager of the Hong Kong Programme Unit of Oxfam.
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“For too long, women have come last in food and beverage company supply chains. Gender discrimination is a major cause of global hunger, poverty and inequality. Consumers are speaking up to say they care about how companies impact the most vulnerable and today Mars and Nestle have shown they are listening.”

Oxfam now calls on Mondelez to follow suit and address their impacts on hunger and poverty. “Consumers and investors will apply greater pressure if Mondelez continues to stand back and let their competitors lead the way,” said Kalina.

Notes to editors:
Specifics on Mars’s commitments: http://cocoasustainability.com/2013/03/mars-chocolate-and-oxfam-america-agree-to-intentional-approach-to-empower-women
Specifics on Nestle’s commitments: http://www.nestle.com/csv/ruraldevelopment/women
Oxfam’s petition targeting Mars, Mondelez and Nestle: http://www.behindthebrands.org/en
Media briefing on gender and cocoa (English version only): http://www.oxfam.org.hk/content/98/content_14870tc.pdf

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About Oxfam
Oxfam is dedicated to fighting poverty and inequity worldwide. The international and independent development and humanitarian organisation tackles poverty in four main ways: sustainable development in poor communities, disaster relief, local, national and global advocacy, and education with Hong Kong youth. Established in Hong Kong in 1976, Oxfam Hong Kong is a founding member of Oxfam, an international confederation that has assisted poor people in 94 countries. Oxfam Hong Kong alone has supported poor people in over 70 countries/regions.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Shirley Chan
Assistant Communications Officer
Telephone: +852 3120-5281
Email: shirley.chan@oxfam.org.hk