As part of Fairtrade Fortnight in the UK (24 February – 8 March), the Fairtrade Foundation is arming people the length and breadth of the country with more than 35,0000 little attention-grabbing ‘storybombs’, featuring the stories of women cocoa farmers to highlight the gender pay gap in chocolate.
Fairtrade estimates the UK chocolate industry is worth £4bn ($5.5bn) each year, but in Côte d’Ivoire, a typical female cocoa farmer earns on average 23p a day - well below the extreme poverty line of around £1.40 per day.
Created to support Fairtrade’s She Deserves campaign, the ‘storybombs’ are named after real cocoa farmers from Côte d’Ivoire, and tell the true stories of cocoa farmers Edith and Therese who are fighting back against exploitation, poverty wages and climate change in cocoa communities in West Africa, where 60% of the world’s cocoa is grown.
Each ‘storybomb’ will be concealed in unassuming places across Fairtrade’s vast network of schools, villages, towns and regions, to be discovered by inquisitive chocolate lovers, who will be invited to re-hide them once the stories have been enjoyed, in random acts of kindness towards the next person.
The stories have been illustrated by artist DorcasCreates, who is known for being passionate about representing and uplifting black women through her work. She uses bold colours, pattern-work and design to reference her own West African heritage.
According to Fairtrade, female cocoa farmers carry the greatest burden and typically work gruelling days yet earn insufficient money to provide the basics for their families or give opportunities to their children. They work in the fields, look after children, carry water and transport the cocoa beans to market, often with fewer rights than men.
Fairtrade Fortnight’s She Deserves campaign aims to establish a living income of £1.86 for women cocoa growers in West Africa. Fairtrade’s own standards ensure that women have a voice in the community, are represented in decision-making and benefit from the increased value of Fairtrade sales.