Actress raises awareness for women’s co-ops in Ghana

BAFTA nominated UK comic Jessica Hynes learnt the true meaning of girl power after visiting the Akoma Co-operative Ghana.

BAFTA nominated UK comic Jessica Hynes learnt the true meaning of girl power after visiting the Akoma Co-operative Ghana.

The Akoma Co-op is made up entirely of women who process, make and sell pure shea butter. Jessica is hoping to raise awareness of the Akoma women and others like them this Fairtrade Fortnight.

This International Women’s Day she is going make-up free, wearing nothing but the Akoma Shea Millions made by the 73 women from the co-operative. She will be going bare-faced and taking part in a Twitter Thunderclap in order to support Fairtrade women’s co-ops like Akoma.

She explains: "I recently visited Ghana and was moved by the way these women operated together as a team. Shea butter here is called ‘women’s gold’. People believe it will bring wealth to the region and touch a million lives, just as cocoa has brought income and empowerment to women in Fairtrade in the south of the country.

"Everyone needs to be given a fair price for what they grow. Here in Akoma they are producing a great quality product which is the basis for so many others we can buy at home. I want to let people know about this wonderful group of women and what they are doing to strengthen one of the poorest communities in the world."

Pusu-Namogo village, where the co-op is based, is in one of the poorest parts of Ghana, with high illiteracy rates and low school attendance.

Jessica, with her nine year old daughter Bee, visited the co-op to find out how the cosmetic staple is made and learn about the benefits of Fairtrade for women.

The Akoma Shea Million product is a soothing shea butter and extremely therapeutic, helping to renew cracked, aged and damaged skin. Rich in vitamins A and E, Akoma’s Shea Millions is certified organic by the Soil Association, and is Fairtrade.

Juliana Sampana, the president of the co-operative, says life has been hard for many: "Women in this region have worked so hard to put food on their tables for their families through farming and odd jobs but end up with an unfair income which leads to poor diet and health problems such as beriberi and other diseases. But with Fairtrade certification the women are assured of receiving a fair wage for their hard work."

Jessica added: “‘I now hope that I can help these incredible women touch more lives with their hard work and strength by showing people in the UK how wonderful the shea butter is and why they should be supporting such co-operatives too.”

To sign up to the Twitter Thunderclap, vist: http://ow.ly/hV7FH, or follow @FairtradeUKNews and @JefficaHoons.

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