Ghana’s cocoa sector has recently been heralded as a success story for its economic growth and poverty reduction impact on smallholder producers. Female farmers’ participation in the sector, however, remains extremely low as a result of persistent gender inequalities in the production conditions: on average women manage smaller land holdings and have less access to productive inputs. This paper shows that if these gender inequalities are addressed, women’s economic and social benefits from cocoa may increase substantially, a necessary condition for Ghana’s poverty reduction efforts to reach middle income status by 2015. Using data on a panel of farmers surveyed over the years of a major production boom - 2002 to 2004 – we find that: (i) there are no significant differences between women’s and men’s yields despite women’s lower level of input use; and (ii) if women were to use the same level of fertilizer and insecticide as men, their land productivity could be further raised. This proves that women have the potential of being better farm managers in the cultivation of the export cash crop. Our results hold for a sample of predominantly owner-farmers (both male and female), however the policy implications are clear. First, the cocoa sector can provide an important avenue for women’s economic socio-economic empowerment if institutional reforms on land acquisition and market reforms for accessing productive inputs are addressed to generate gender balanced opportunities. The second message of the paper has important policy implications for the cocoa sector as a whole: female farmers use hired labor and land more efficiently than men, proving both the feasibility and the desirability for all smallholders to shift to a more effective allocation of their scarce resources. This is a key finding in the context of Ghana’s near exhausted forest reserve.