Three years after its launch, the “Women for Bees” program has come to Rwanda. Founded by Guerlain and UNESCO, the project combines training in beekeeping and scientific support. This latest initiative in the Gishwati-Mukura Landscape Biosphere Reserve is the program’s first endeavor on the African continent.
A new cohort of 33 Rwandan women have completed an intensive six-month “Women for Bees” beekeeping training course. The program is designed to promote their empowerment and financial autonomy while teaching them modern beekeeping techniques and bringing them greater awareness of the role bees play in the local ecosystem. Beekeeping in Rwanda has long been primarily a male domain. Through the knowledge gained from the “Women for Bees” program and their entrepreneurial drive, these new female beekeepers will be able to leverage resources from honey production. What’s more, they will benefit from the pollination process across their agricultural environment and be able to develop other bee products or establish an ecotourism network, for example.
Spanning some 800 square kilometers, the Gishwati-Mukura Landscape Biosophere Reserve in northwestern Rwanda is currently home to 338,000 people, who earn their income primarily from agriculture and agroforestry. The area counts large numbers of wild honeybee colonies, indicating that local plant resources are suitable for bee colonies and that the reserve thus enjoys high potential for honey yield. The Gishwati association of beekeepers (UNICOAPIGI) collects honey from five different cooperatives, three of them supported by the “Women for Bees” program.
After Rwanda, a new Guerlain x UNESCO “Women for Bees” program will continue to further women’s empowerment and protection of bees thanks to a training initiative in China in 2024.