Women & the Environment

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Wednesday 1st March 2017

2006-2016, the RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation celebrates 10 years of supporting the roles of women

On 6th December 2016, nearly 400 people gathered at the Théâtre du Trianon in Paris to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation. This evening brought back the highlights of its history, and to present the "RAJA Women's Awards Foundation" - special 10 years
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RAJA Women's Awards Foundation 10 year anniversary

Founded in 2006 by Danièle Kapel-Marcovici, President and CEO of the RAJA Group, the RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation aims support the solidarity, recognise and support projects dedicated to women.

Nearly 400 people gathered at the Théâtre du Trianon in Paris to celebrate the Foundation's 10th anniversary. The evening highlighted significant events of its history.

"It is with great pride that we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the foundation, and our determination has been steadily growing since 2006. We will continue our struggle for women's rights as long as inequality and violence persist" Danièle Kapel -Marcovici, President and CEO of the RAJA Group, and President of the RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation.

The Foundation also presented the RAJA Women's 2016 Awards, to exceptional projects that have received continued support from the Foundation since 2006. €80,000 was awarded to 5 associations to enable them to continue their projects to support women and building a sustainable environment.

The training and professional integration award
Fleurs de Cocagne received €20,000
Local, organic, eco-responsible flowers providing employment opportunities for women.
France


The education and social action award
Afghanistan Libre received €20,000
Providing healthcare education and professional training for and by Afghan women.
Afghanistan


For women’s rights and campaigning against violence award
Lysistrata received €20,000
Fighting back against sexual violence in North Kivu.
Democratic Republic of Congo


The special prize voted by the public
Habitat Cité received €10,000
Mud-brick construction techniques with the women of Pantanal.
Nicaragua


The special prize voted by the panel of judges
Life project 4 youth (LP4Y) received €10,000 Supporting marginalised young women and young mothers in their socio-professional integration.
Philippines

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Monday 18th January 2016

Project #5 India

Interview with Clotilde Bato, Director of Solidarity. Project Bio / Seeds of Hope school, India. Read more

Why is this project important? What needs does it meet, both for women and the environment?

First, generally half the farmers in the world are women and their contribution to agricultural work is up to 60% in some countries. Moreover, women farmers in the south produce half of the food in the world, yet they do not enjoy the same working conditions as male farmers.

In Northern India, the mountainous region of Uttarakhand has a reserve of rich biodiversity rare and wild plants, animals and other organisms. Unfortunately, since the "Green Revolution" new ecological and economic pressures were imposed on small farmers in the area, (such as the use of non-reproducible hybrid seeds with the need to purchase additional agricultural inputs for harvesting), leading to poverty and debt, which could lead to suicide. Women of the area support the work of the land, they have traditional knowledge for working the land and preservation of the environment, women are the link between the field and communities through their work of the protection of seeds, breeding, cooking, taste etc. However, these skills are not valued because they live in a very patriarchal society. In this context, it is important to put in place appropriate biodiversity conservation policies and promote organic agriculture, two actions that create sustainable agriculture that protects the environment and improve socioeconomic conditions, by using the local knowledge and the status of farmers within the community.

In Southern India, as elsewhere in the country, economic growth is most often at the expense of the environment and leads to an inexorable rise in waste generation by the inhabitants. It is essential to quickly educate youngsters of the fight against climate change and environmental protection. Bio-schools provide the environmental education however the Indian government is only just beginning to seize this; it represents the poor access to environmental education in rural areas. Girls who attend the bio-schools are for the vast majority from poor families with low access to education and extracurricular activities. Bio-school gardens allow these underprivileged girls to learn how to preserve nature and the environment, but also to gain self-confidence where little space is granted.

How will this operation help to change the situation of women?

It has been shown that there is a link between poverty, women's autonomy, and biodiversity. In India, women play a vital role in agricultural production and family nutrition. Indeed, women are responsible for the produce, supplying the industry or market. That is why climate change in the region negatively affects their role, and thus food security and welfare of the whole community.

In Northern India, by focusing on women farmers, who also represent the majority of the beneficiaries of the project "Seeds of Hope", SOLIDARITY recognise and value their important role within the community. The training which they participate in reinforces their autonomy and establishes their role within their local community. Finally, it provides an independent income as a factor in improving the living conditions of families and allows the improvement of their human rights. Overall, the project greatly strengthens women’s autonomy and leadership.

SOLIDARITY is convinced that women play a key role in preserving the environment because it will not happen without their full participation.Most often, they are responsible in providing the household food.

Could you tell us the story of a woman beneficiary of the project that particularly touched you?

Seeds of Hope

The story: an unexpected phenomenon.

Following on from Phase 1 of the project, the evaluation showed the trained farmers not only shared their newly gained knowledge but they also shared their production surpluses with their neighbors and families, multiplying the number of indirect beneficiaries towards the conservation of traditional seeds and agro ecological production.

The project has naturally created a system of solidarity.

Bio-schools

Jaya - Moderator of the project says: "This project is a real success, and it is thanks to the keen interest shown by the students, teachers and coordinators. The project is being implemented in 11 schools, i cannot go more than once a week in each school, and so when I'm not there, students and teachers are involved and look after the garden. They are so committed to this project that those who live near the school even come on weekends and holidays to maintain the garden! In fact, teachers are our best advocates; they are discussing the project with colleagues from other schools, and end up convincing them to do the same with their own schools. This is what allows us to continue with the project up until today.

We can absolutely say that educating children is the key to change in parental practices. I have several stories to prove it. One day, for example, a man whose son was involved in the bio-schools project visited me and told me he had always burned waste, but since his child studied global warming, and the hole in the ozone layer, he has decided to now sort his waste instead.

The bio-schools project also allowed the children to learn how to make their own compost. Once at home, they can make it for their own gardens. There's also this little girl, who asked me several times for seeds so that she can plant them at home. I gave her pepper and tomato seeds, but unfortunately the chickens had eaten all the seeds she had planted. She had been so disappointed and had cried so much that her mother came and told me. This shows how children and indirectly parents are impacted by the project.

Beneficiary testimony:

Davadi, granddaughter of a beneficiary of the bio-schools project: "I love this place, the trees and plants are beautiful, I will also make my garden green like that one! I thank my sister for letting me come here."

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Friday 11th December 2015

Project #4 Myanmar

Interview with Charlotte Nivollet, Regional Director South East Asia GERES, project in Myanmar. Read more

Why is this project important?

Myanmar has great potential, it is demonstrating the use of locally made, affordable and sustainable cooking solutions in the country. Through this pilot program, GERES aims to develop the region by providing improved cooking stoves. The team works with the Department of Environmental Conservation and Forestry and the Ministry of Science and Technology to ensure the quality of products manufactured and sold. The cooking stoves which will limit the degradation of forests and reduce smoke emissions and greenhouse gases, would impact 300,000 households.

We would also enable the economic development of businesses run by producers improving their chain of production and sales, 30 businesses are already involved in the pilot project.

With better efficiency, improved stoves will help to curb forest degradation and reduce CO2 emissions from biomass burning.

What needs does this meet, both for women and the environment?

The project work empowers the independence of women entrepreneurs by strengthening their professional capabilities. The ENERGIA 2015 study sponsored by GERES reports the example of a group of women from the region of Sagaing, working for 15 years in the sector but barely managing to get by. To date, five groups of women have been identified to receive training to develop their professional skills, to help improve their production chain with the objective of increasing their abilities and income. From the expected success of these groups, SCALE is designed to influence other women producers to engage with the project.

Improve the living conditions of users

In the country today, 85% of people depend on solid biomass, 3-stone fireplaces are used by 35% of people, followed by the traditional fireplace coal, used by 27% of households (Study EMC - GERES 2015).

A study "Global Burden of Disease assessment" by WHO indicates that indoor air pollution is the third risk factor of the disease burden in Myanmar. Women aged 15 to 49 are the most affected. In general, women live 10 years less than men in Myanmar.

The improved stoves help to reduce the workload of women who allocate an average of 217 hours a year collecting firewood in Myanmar (Mercy Corps-Myanmar, 2012). These stoves reduce the cooking time and thus save time, they save fuel and reduce the air pollution inside. The project supported by the Raja Foundation aims to reach 150,000 women in Myanmar.

Fight against deforestation

The country certainly still has an abundant forestry, however it has undergone one of the highest deforestation rates on earth, of 1.17%. Between the 1990s and 2000s it decreased to 0.95% and remained unchanged between 2005 and 2010 (Study EMC - GERES, 2015).

Cutting trees in forests around the villages is not controlled; deforestation is far from being solved and the price of fuel has been multiplied by 4 since 1994.

What will this operation help to change for the situation of women?

5 women groups were identified for the pilot programme:

After analysing their supply chain and their products, necessary training is given to develop a cleaner more efficient home, but also to develop tools that can improve their production chain and ensure good quality for the long term. These women will then be able to increase their production.

To maximize their production and sell better, a section of the project is dedicated to raising awareness in the pilot regions to support end users with better products and guidance. These stoves will allow women to reduce cooking time, fuel collection, so they can focus on other profitable activities, or just relax. During focus groups with the project team and our partner ENERGIA, men and women shared that they felt particularly exhausted from their previous various daily tasks. The perspective of time savings offered by having the improved stoves is much appreciated.

Could you tell us a story from the project that you remember?

The team analysed traditional homes from 3 different provinces to gain a better understanding in how the process of making stoves can be more efficient and cleaner. In Hlaing Det, a stove was produced by a young woman using different resources. After a series of tests, our colleagues found the difference between the weights of stoves are barely noticeable, normally the revenues between stoves vary depending on the quality of the stove but her produce is nearly identical. The team reported that the skilful producer is responsible, it is a promising start for the young woman and her business.

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Wednesday 25th November 2015

Project #3 Mozambique

Interview with Marie-Pierre Duclercq, head of the agricultural programme RISE association, project in Mozambique. Read more

Why is this project important? What needs does it meet, both for women and the environment?

This project is important because it addresses several issues that are often found in peri-urban areas within major African cities. Intensive production subjects the land to high pressure, marketing difficulties, weak organisation of producers/trainers and institutions of support, intensive and uncontrolled use of chemical inputs that have significant environmental impacts and to public health, especially that of farmers. Faced with these issues this project proposes the following:

• Strengthen the capacity of various stakeholders and the consultations between them, have a project sustainability pledge between associations and unions of producers/trainers, public support services for agriculture, traders and consumers
• Improve and diversify agricultural production, in particular through experimentation and dissemination of agro ecological production techniques, and to be more environmentally friendly
• Improving marketing channels and the structuring of "healthy vegetables", a project not to use chemicals

The project will ensure that women, the leading agents of the green areas of Maputo, are always represented, present and emphasised in all activities, and they gain more control in the governance bodies. Their main concerns are to feed their families and provide a good education for their children. Thanks to improving their knowledge and access to new markets, they increase their income and can improve the living conditions of their families.

What will this operation help to change the situation of women?

By its intervention on the improvement of working conditions (by reducing the time and arduousness of irrigation), reduced production costs (with the substitution of chemical inputs by technical and alternative products), this also has a positive impact to their health, and access to new markets in the framework of the agro ecological chain. The project has economic improvement to women's activities and independence, with a long term impact. During my last visit, I could see that with the increase of sales revenue through the agro ecological chain, some women could now afford to send their children to school.

Could you tell us the story of a woman beneficiary of the project that particularly touched you?

During my last visit to Maputo I met Isabel, a member of the association of "Zimpeto of mulheres" whose dynamism, motivation and commitment touched me. At our first meeting with the ESSOR team she realised that other alternatives exist in terms of production and decided to experiment. She is still committed to this day despite encountering difficulties, for example, due to trading issues she had to reduce some of the better seeds she used. This meant she had to test new varieties on the plot. Unlike some producers who engage in the agro ecological sector for purely economic reasons (which is understandable in view of poverty), she truly cares about the land and recognises the negative impacts of chemicals on the environment and health.

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Thursday 5th November 2015

Project #2 Cuba

Interview with Santiago Nunez Regueiro, head of the Latin America programme for the project to "Educate women cattle breeders to better understand the challenges of climate change" in Cuba. Read more

Why is this project important? What needs does it meet, both for women and the environment?

In Cuba where over 80% of food is imported, food production has become a national priority. But recurrent droughts, due to climate change and degradation of structures strongly impact yields.

In Camagüey, a key province for breeding, production reached only half of its potential. The project works in this area with high potential breeders, providing training on animal management, adaptation to climate change etc. to help improve the quality of their work and produce. The livestock industry in Cuba is considered to be reserved for men, the project provides advocacy for gender equality in the sector.

What will this operation help to change the situation for women?

Women beneficiaries are aware of the challenges of climate change and are able to adapt. They learn by example, and use more drought-resistant seeds to diversify production, and thanks to the training provided they will be more independent. Finally producers share experiences and knowledge and good practices will improve the quality and quantity of production across the area.

Also, working with all stakeholders in the livestock sector, and raising the importance of women's involvement, the project contributes to changing behaviour and improving the situation of those involved.

Could you tell us the journey of women in the project that particularly touched you?

Ana Ángela Rodríguez Fleita

Ana is independent and courageous. After her veterinarian studies she was able to provide for her family. With a 22 year experience in the sector, she has become an example to others.

When we talk about her project, she said: "This project came to me by surprise. I am an enterprising woman, I have long dreamed of doing new things, develop new agricultural products, it is important to feed the communities and it is important that we all give and help more. I started breeding chickens, rabbits, sheep and goats, and growing vegetables. I will benefit from the project, not only in terms of resources but above all knowledge. I am very grateful and motivated.

Luisa María Alonso Barba

When her father fell ill this breeder found herself at the head of the family farming business.

Thanks to the care and the attention given to her animals, today, it is not only meat she sells to remote provinces in the west of Cuba, but she also produces more than 48 thousand liters of milk annually, cheese and 100 quintals of meat.

When we talk about her project, she says: "I am very happy to have been selected, it is the recognition of my work. I engaged in forest nursery, rearing goats and sheep. I think I can bring a lot more, and improve the quality of life of my family. It is important to recognise the work of a peasant woman. A heavy workload weighs on his shoulders; his home, his work is a heroine. The women in this world, are often ignored. This project will be useful for many rural women."

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Monday 26th October 2015

Project #1 Togo

Interview with Myriam Mackiewicz, Coordinator at Agronomists and Veterinarians without Borders in Togo. Read more

Why is this project important, and what does it achieve for women and the environment?

The project is working with Togolese partners, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Inades-Formation training and the Regional Union of Grain Producers’ Organisation in the Savanah region (UROPCS), to ensure support is provided to the initiative and recognition is given to women for their efforts in sustainability.

How will the initiative help change the lives of women in the project?

The Action Programme will affect women at different levels, firstly within the family unit thanks to education and training received on their rights. Women acquire more self-confidence and will be able to voice their opinions, for example negotiate and be able to benefit from most fertile farmland. Secondly from training received from the Farmer Field Schools (FFS), women can put into practice new ways to cultivate fields, and from the newly planted trees they will be able to access wood enabling procurement for fuel, and this will also reduce pressure on the natural vegetation. And finally women can enforce the greater use of compost and intercropping, and the use of 100% organic insecticides which are manufactured from chilies and neem seed (known as the tree of Neem, which is native to Southeast Asia but also grown in warm lowland tropics around the world).

Can you tell us of a particular moment the project affected you the most?

"Hortense is a 50 year old widow who lives in the village of Nano where she is a member of a group of farmers. With the project their lives changed from the training in agro-ecological practices with the FFS, and receiving access to a cart and a donkey, which is shared between 3 neighbours. In great excitement she exclaimed, “Ah! What a relief! With our cart we no longer need to struggle to fetch water, carry dead wood and it will help with harvesting! It is as if my pain were divided by ten. And then, look at this plot! It will give us 2 times more corn than usual! This year, we produced 4 times more compost. Before we had a pit that we had trouble filling, and this year with the cart, we have now filled two pits with the help of the project technicians. With a better process we will produce good compost, and this is a promise of a good harvest!"

Yémila lives with her husband and six children in the village of Nagbongou. She trained in agro-ecological practices in a field school and tells us the change in her husband's behaviour following the training he received on socio-economic rights of women and managing the granary:

"One night, my husband made me sit on our terrace and then he said, mother of my children, I would like you to talk to you about our granary and reflect together on how to avoid periods of drought, which we experience at the start of every winter."

"It was the first time in our marriage that my husband and I have discussed our livelihood! I was very curious and wanted to listen... He told me, being trained on the socio-economic rights of women has made him understand the importance of discussing things within the family and by training and giving advice to family farms. He realised that to better manage the granary a women’s involvement is essential. As a result we have planned to combine our food supplies. For the first time, we avoided drought and I have not had to use the income from my work (Yémila also produces a local fermented drink made from sorghum) to buy food. Each year after the drought I have had to start from zero. This year I have a good crop yield and I intend to store the sorghum. I thank God and the project."

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Monday 7th September 2015

Agenda for action: 2 major events

December 2015

During COP21 (1), the RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation will organise a conference focusing on the role of women, climate change and environmental protection. This event, which is open to all, will be an opportunity to bring together those involved with senior experts... Read more

(1)United Nations Conference on Climate Change to be held in Paris from 30th November to 11th December, 2015.

8th March 2016

During International Women's Day, the RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation will donate the funds collected between September 2015 to February 2016, and will present it to the 5 selected projects of the “Women & Environment” Action Programme.

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