Interview with Fanny Assata Doumbia, President of the Cocoa Farmers' Cooperative ECAM
Madame Fanny is an inspiring woman who exemplifies Cocoa Life’s principles, including the belief that women are one of the cocoa industry’s most valuable resources.
In Côte d’Ivoire, one of our partners is Madame Fanny Assata Doumbia, who leads the ECAM farmers’ cooperative. ECAM supports farmers with continuing education on agriculture and financial management. Madame Fanny is an inspiring woman who exemplifies Cocoa Life’s principles, including the belief that women are one of the cocoa industry’s most valuable resources.
Madame Fanny Assata Doumbia (FA): There’s a campaign to sensitize men to the changing roles of women. ECAM has participated greatly in this effort. Men are being encouraged to include women in decision-making. In the very beginning, men were resistant. Today, not all men are open to the idea, but the majority understand that including women is the way to go.
FA: Women bring strong skills in financial management and family management, and they understand that the land has to be well treated. Women are holding the whole family together—they coordinate everything. They advise men and help them when it comes time to harvest. They are quite strict in their management of things. The more women are involved, the more durable any enterprise will be.
FA: The production of cocoa has diminished in these areas of Cote d’Ivoire, so the revenue of families here has diminished too. ECAM provides training for women to foster other sources of revenue, such as growing vegetables and raising poultry and pigs. This helps women support their husbands and send their children to school. Another issue we’re working on is that many young women get pregnant and have to give up their studies. So one project we have in mind is to organize a center where young women can get support with their children and continue studying through high school or even college.
You’re a role model for any girl who sees you as the leader of ECAM. What do you think about that?
FA: I have two young women who work with me as interns right now, and I understand how important it is to support these women. I went to a village a few years back and gave a speech. A gentleman told me that he was planning to take his daughter out of school, but after hearing me, he decided to let her continue attending school. Today she is the chief of police in her town.
FA: One has to cultivate joy! I have a sense of humor and a joyful nature, but this is something I have to work on every day. I believe these qualities are crucial in order to work well with the people who cultivate the land. They may show up in a bad mood sometimes, but if you welcome them with joy, things improve.
FA: I hope that Cote d’Ivoire’s women will figure out more ways to work together. They could create microenterprises. Remember: Women are the center of the family unit, and if a woman is successful, then her entire family will be successful, and when more families are successful, the whole community is successful. The more women are given the opportunity to step up, the more the community will benefit as a result.