For most of us living in the United States, International Women’s Day came and went yesterday, overshadowed by Fat Tuesday and Paczki Day celebrations. Not that I’m against either one, mind you, because they both are wonderful opportunities for feasting. Nevertheless, because of the moon’s wandering this year, International Women’s Day faced stiff competition in drawing attention from such party themes as Mardi Gras and Polish jelly donuts.
I have to give Google credit, however, with its elaborate illustration promoting the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. In clicking on the illustration, I found out about the campaign asking women all around the world to show solidarity for the movement by appearing on bridges across the globe.
Thus, ladies could be seen gathering at the Millennium Bridge in London, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Grand Barriere Bridge connecting Rwanda and Congo.
So why all the hoopla about International Women’s Day? Aren’t flowers or chocolates enough? And by the way, didn’t we men just do this recently on Valentine’s Day? Well, this commemoration isn’t so much about romance as it is about equality, recognition and self-determination. Unfortunately, even after 100 years of progress, there’s still room for much improvement.
According to Google, two-thirds of the world’s work is done by women, with one-half of the world’s food produced by women. On the economic side, however, women only account for 10% of the world’s income and 1% of the world’s property.
Obviously the numbers are skewed on the dollars and cents side for women. Of course, we know that women are making great strides in developed nations, taking on leadership roles in politics, business, art and culture. Despite such successes, there still are many glass ceilings out there.
It’s even more complicated in underdeveloped nations where women rarely receive recognition for all the work they do. Oftentimes, they become victims as yesterday’s headlines from the Ivory Coast grimly reminded us.
To protest the killing of seven women by security forces a week earlier, women who had been peacefully demonstrating against Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, thousands of women (and men) gathered to denounce the killings on International Women's Day.
Once again, Gbagbo’s security forces moved in, killing four of the protesters – three men and one woman. The sad news sends a grisly reminder of how often women (and men championing their causes) are abused in Third World countries. It saddens me even more that this comes from the world’s largest exporter of cocoa beans. As we all know, chocolate has a special connection with women.
One can only hope that those deaths will not have been in vain, and that there will be a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Ivory Coast.
But it wasn’t all bad news yesterday. Divine Chocolate recently announced that it’s offering a $1 coupon to consumers who purchase their product. For every coupon used, Divine Chocolate will invest $1 into Kuapa Kokoo’s Women’s Fund, which supports small-scale farming communities in Ghana.
The Kuapa Kokoo is a Ghanaian farmer’s cooperative that boasts 45,000 members. It also owns 45% of Divine Chocolate and supplies the company with all its chocolate. Women play a significant role in the cooperative and this year marks the first time that a female, Christiana Ohene Agyare, heads up the organization.
The Kuapa Kokoo Women’s fund increases economic security for cocoa farming families by funding training for members to set up and run small businesses, which can generate income during the cocoa growing offseason.
So if you have a hankering for chocolate as well as a good deal, and would like to further a good cause, think Divine. The coupons are available on Facebook (www.facebook.com/divingchocolateUSA) and in retail outlets nationally.