Entry: Bernadette Paolo, President and CEO/The Africa Society
On June 26, The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa and the World Cocoa Foundation hosted a lunch in Washington, DC to recognize the contributions of two imporant African women -- The Honorable Akosua Frema Osei-Opare of the Republic of Ghana and Mrs. Amouan Acquah Assouan of the Republic of Côte D’Ivoire.
The Honorable Frema Osei-Opare currently serves as Deputy Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment for Ghana. Since 2005 she has been Member of Parliament and Director of the National Program for the Elimination of the World Forms of Child Labor in Cocoa. In the past she held senior level positions, for over 10 years, with ActionAid Africa and SNV/Netherlands Development Organization. She has also served as Economic Development Consultant for United Nations programs in Malawi and Nigeria.
Mrs. Acquah Assouan is the Executive Secretary of the Child Labor Monitoring System (CLMS) for Cocoa Certification and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for the Republic of Côte D’Ivoire. Since 2004 she has been appointed twice as Director of Côte D’Ivoire’s Cocoa Task Force, which was formed to combat child labor in Côte D’Ivoire’s cocoa sector, and remains the focal point for cocoa child labor certification in the country. She was formerly the Special Advisor in charge of Cocoa Certification and, as an agronomist with over 25 years experience, has dealt extensively with agricultural products at the National Agriculture Development Bank and the Cocoa Board.
The luncheon was attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps, the business community, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Labor, US Agency for International Development, the media, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), Congress, World Cocoa Foundation member companies, and other dignitaries.
Following a brief welcome speech by Bill Guyton, Bernadette Paolo gave opening remarks, acknowledging the dignitaries, and reiterating efforts by The Africa Society and World Cocoa Foundation to showcase the importance of Africa and its peoples to economic development and labor issues worldwide.
Ambassador Bawuah-Edusei of Ghana formally introduced Mrs. Osei-Opare, recounting her achievements in creating policies to battle appalling child labor practices.
Mrs. Acquah Assouan was formally introduced by Mr. Lata Akadje, Cultural Counselor for Côte D’Ivoire, who also cited her unprecedented commitment to dealing with child labor problems as well as her overall contributions to nation building.
Both Mrs. Frema Osei-Opare and Mrs. Acquah Assouan outlined the context of child labor in their countries and highlighted the steps being taken, in partnership with the cocoa industry, NGOs, and labor experts, to implement a sector-wide certification system on child labor in cocoa farming.
Following their speeches, John Claringbould (Mars Incorporated) and Charlotte Ponticelli (US Department of Labor) gave remarks, further commending the dedication and diligent work of both honorees.
Courtesy of The Africa Society and World Cocoa Foundation, Mrs. Osei-Opare and Mrs. Assouan received gifts to support local organizations in their countries who were working on child labor and human rights issues.
Mrs. Frema Osei-Opare and Mrs. Acquah Assouan continue to play a vital role in promoting a better understanding of the root causes of child labor, in generating compelling methods of monitoring improvements, and in advocating the implementation of actions that drive change in cocoa growing communities.