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Cotton made in Africa supports women's rights and independence

By Simone Preuss


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Cotton farmer. Credits: Martin J. Kielmann via Aid by Trade Foundation

Just in time for today's International Women's Day, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) explains how the initiative promotes the rights and independence of women. For example, gender equality is firmly anchored in the CmiA standard of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), requiring that women and men receive equal pay for equal work as well as equal access to resources and means of production; it also affirms maternity rights.

“It is important to make people aware of why gender equality matters and how it benefits everyone,” comments Tina Stridde, managing director of the Aid by Trade Foundation, in a press release. According to empirical proof cited by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, women are just as productive as men if they have the same access to land and resources; beyond that, women also invest in their children’s education and health.

Financial independence through various revenue streams

CmiA and its partners have already conducted many projects through the CmiA Community Cooperation Programme (CCCP), for instance supporting female farmers by providing seed capital for income-generating activities that range from growing vegetables and raising livestock to building up village shops and processing food. To date, CmiA has supported 90 women’s clubs through these projects, thereby enabling some 2,300 women to take a step towards economic and social independence.

“Forming the hub of hundreds of thousands of small-scale farming operations and households in African countries south of the Sahara, women play a key role in sustainable cotton cultivation. However, they are often at a disadvantage due to discriminatory structures and societal prejudices,“ states the press release. 

“We promote social, economic and environmental sustainability in cotton production. This includes combating structural discrimination against women. We believe that sustainable cotton is not possible without equality,” adds Stridde.

Projects in Benin and Tanzania

In Benin, Cotton made in Africa is currently supporting women in the production of sustainable organic shea butter, working together with local implementation partner for CmiA Organic, the Beninese Organisation for the Promotion of Organic Agriculture (OBEPAB) There are 130 CmiA Organic cotton farmers, all women, taking advantage of this opportunity to train in cultivation, processing and marketing in order to generate an income in addition to their revenue from cotton sales. They have already found success in selling their products through two businesses, including one in Benin’s largest city, Cotonou.  

In the East African country of Tanzania, CmiA and the Tanzanian cotton company Biosustain are supporting the construction of a dormitory for girls at the school in Mtekente so that around 80 girls can attend school and take part in lessons without restrictions. Until now, this has been prevented by often long and sometimes dangerous journeys.

This is already the second phase of the project, which is supported by fashion brands Comma and S.Oliver, both part of the S.Oliver Group, as well as local partners. “We are convinced that a sustainable future can only succeed if it is based on equality. A key aspect of this is ensuring that girls and women have equal access to education and to social and economic participation,” sums up Sabrina Müller, head of global sustainability at S.Oliver Group.  

Aid by Trade Foundation
Cotton made in Africa
Organic Cotton