Guerlain has joined forces with UNESCO and Angelina Jolie as the Godmother of the 2021 promotion of beekeepers, on a state-of-the-art, female beekeeping entrepreneurship programme, “Women for Bees”.
Taking place in the organization’s Biosphere Reserves, it will be led with the help of the French Observatory of Apidology (OFA) and will support beekeepers from Russia to Ethiopia to Cambodia. Due to be set in motion on the 21st of June 2021, the 30-day training will take place at the OFA, located in the “Massif de la Sainte-Baume” in Provence – France. Each participant will acquire the theoretical and practical bases of the various aspects of beekeeping, including the running of a professional apiary thanks to the OFA Beekeepers’ expertise. The objective is to empower women through expertise-driven and sustainable professional activity. At the end of the training, the participants will have acquired all the protocols allowing them to sustain their bee colonies, become fully professional beekeeperentrepreneurs as well as members of an international network of female beekeepers, and share their skills and knowledge to help train others.
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The UNESCO Biosphere Reserves that will be involved in the first two years include Iles et Mer d’Iroise (France), Sila (Italy), the Central Balkans (Bulgaria), Kozjansko & Obsotelje (Slovenia), Katunskiy (Russia), Tonle Sap (Cambodia), Kafa (Ethiopia), Volcans (Rwanda) and Xishuangbanna (China).
By 2025, 2500 hives will have been built within 25 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and 125 million bees will have been restocked. The 50 women to graduate by that year, they will have been trained and supported in establishing their own beekeeping operations – whilst participating in a vital, socially beneficial project.
Beekeeping can generate income in rural areas for disadvantaged population who don’t own crops or farms. It can also generate income and improve food security in areas where agricultural production is minimal.
Photo: Alexei Hay/Netflix
Angelina Jolie, who as Godmother to the programme this year, will meet with the female beekeepers and track their progress, said:
“When women gain skills and knowledge their instinct is to help raise others. I’m excited to meet the women taking part in this programme from all over the world. I look forward to getting to know them and learning about their culture and environment and the role bees play in that. I hope the training will strengthen their independence, their livelihoods and their communities.”
17 years ago, Angelina Jolie founded a Foundation in the name of her son Maddox in the Samlot Region in Cambodia, to support the community and ecology of one of the areas of Cambodia most affected by the Cambodian civil war, where Angelina has a long-term family home.
The Foundation is dedicated to alleviating extreme rural poverty, protecting the environment and conserving the wildlife of the area. It supports Cambodians as they develop their community and protect their natural resources. As well as health, education, agricultural and women’s empowerment programmes, it provides training to farmers and the community to help them make the best use of their livestock, land and resources. This includes training on raising bees from the production of honey.
It was in Cambodia in 2016 that Angelina’s partnership with Guerlain was born. She brought the company back to Cambodia in 2019 to shoot the most recent Mon Guerlain commercial, and to meet members of the Foundation team, and local beneficiaries of their work. One of the first female beekeepers to take part in the “Women for Bees” training will be from the community served by the Foundation. Angelina said: Guerlain have a genuine commitment to the environment, sustainable development and the communities they work with. That’s what brought us together, and “Women for Bees” is a wonderful extension of that”.