Rwanda Volcanoes National Park Biosphere Reserve


A partnership to train women beekeepers in biosphere reserves

The Gishwati-Mukura Landscape Biosphere Reserve in Rwanda is one of the places where women will be trained in sustainable beekeeping through the partnership between UNESCO and Guerlain.

Bees play a vital role in the pollination of our planet’s plants and trees. Their contribution to the richness and diversity of our ecosystems and agriculture is irreplaceable, and supports food security and the economy. In recent decades, however, the abundance, diversity and health of wild and local bees and pollinators have been threatened by human activities, including land-use change, intensive agriculture and pesticide use, pollution, invasive alien species, pathogens and climate change. This poses serious threats to our biodiversity and food security.

UNESCO and Guerlain cooperate to empower women and support biodiversity through Women for Bees programme, with Angelina Jolie as godmother

To help halt this decline, UNESCO and the French perfume company Guerlain launched a five-year programme in October 2019 to  train and support women beekeepers and the transmission of their knowledge and know-how across the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The programme, a part of the existing partnership between the LVMH group and UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, comprises three objectives.

First, it provides training to women on sustainable beekeeping relying on local species and ecotypes of bees to complement their knowledge and skills.

Secondly, it provides technical support by creating a global network of women beekeepers. The beekeepers receive support to install hives and local swarms based on their needs and the ecological characteristics of each biosphere reserve; as well as ongoing advice on managing their exploitation sustainably.

Thirdly, the benefits of these pollination initiatives for local ecosystems will be evaluated and research will be supported to develop our knowledge on pollination and the interactions between humans and biodiversity.

Women for Bees

Women’s empowerment and biodiversity conservation

A female beekeeping entrepreneurship programme launched by UNESCO and Guerlain

1st Graduation ceremony of Women for Bees programme

With the participation of Angelina Jolie, Godmother of Women for Bees programme

In 2021, seven women from French and Greek biosphere reserves were trained and supported with hives. In 2022, other trainings and technical support will be given to six women from Slovenia (Kozjansko & Obsotelje Biosphere Reserve), Bulgaria (Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve) and Russia (Great Altay Transboundary Biosphere Reserve), eleven women from Cambodia (Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve), five women from Ethiopia (Kafa Biosphere Reserve) and Rwanda (Gishwati-Mukura Landscape Biosphere Reserve) and 3 women from China (Xishuangbanna Biosphere Reserve).

By 2024, 50 women in 25 biosphere reserves will have received training through Women for Bees.