Women’s empowerment is a process in which women take control of their lives, “it is women’s ability to organize individually and collectively, in order to create better access to decision-making, information, knowledge, education, economic resources, opportunities “.
Jardim das Mulheres is a project aimed at developing and supporting the micro female entrepreneurship of rural areas near Bissau and in order to increase their economic and social independence. We work on basic literacy, horticulture and zootechnics bases through educational gardens and on the associative management of production. These educational gardens have become Slow Food Presidia thanks to the cultural and traditional value used in cultivation techniques and the rediscovery of local seeds. The objective of the project is to start up income generating activities through the experimentation of a cooperative female model, to be integrated with the activities typically carried out by men (fishing, laborers in neighboring inhabited centers) and in support of the centers for child nutritional recovery. We want to achieve the objectives through: literacy and training on horticulture techniques, fruit farming and association management of gardens; preparatory activities of the land with wells, fences and start of horticultural production activities; training on food processing and preservation techniques for the production and sale of preserves and fruit juices; sensitization of the local population through village seminars and radio broadcasts, in order to promote a balanced diet and consumption of local productions to the detriment of expensive food imports.
The intervention of CO.P.E. in the Villages of Higat, Cabinque and Ponta Pedra, Cacheu Region, north of Guinea-Bissau, refers to the Millennium Goals To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; Promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. The project Jardin das Mulheres was born in 2010. About thirty families from the villages of the Sector of Sao Domingos (border with Casamance) left Guinea Bissau because of the Coup d’Etat in March 2009 to move to Casamance in search of luck and tranquility , then return to Guinea Bissau without any reference point. Beneficiaries of the first cycle of formation (made with the contribution of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which allocates part of the 8th thousand of the total income tax for charitable interventions in favor of developing countries) were a group of 30 women established in the Higat village, first members and members of the Association “Esperança e Alegria para Mulheres”, association formalized in December 2012. In 2014, thanks to the co-financing of the Fondation Assistance Internationale it was possible to replicate and expand the experience of training and community production with two new groups of women in two new lands, located in the Cacheu region: in the village of Cabinque – beneficiaries women of the association of women Gles Bin Guijabi – and of Ponta Pedra – beneficiaries women of the association Wadna Bo Cosna. The two associations currently work two fields of 100 and 400 square meters respectively, because of the limited resources available, but the available area is much higher, reaching two hectares in the case of the Association of Cabinque and even ten for the association of Ponta Field, even if, in the case of the latter, there are no human resources to work the entire extension of the land and it was decided to limit it to two hectares.
In 2016, the model of associations’ agricultural development and women’s empowerment has also aroused the interest of German cooperation, and in particular of the Catholic Agency for Development Cooperation and of the federation Catholic bodies for the MISEREOR development, which have decided to co-finance (to 70%) the enlargement of the project to three other groups of women, reaching a total of 175 women belonging therefore to 6 associations of women farmers and about 200 children.
Group A (in-depth study, increase and maintenance)
- 20 women belonging to the association “Mulheres para Alegria and Esperança” (Hope and joy for women), coming from the village of Higat (Bula sector), with a cultivable area of 7,500 square meters (gmap: 12.102769, -15.79798);
- 35 women from the village of Cabinque (sector of Canchungo) belonging to the association “Gles Bin Guijabi” (Remember what we say), with a cultivable area of 1,000 square meters (gmap: 12.045155, -16.05948);
- 33 women from the village of Ponta Campo (sector of Canchungo) belonging to the association “Wadna Bo Cosna” (Together we sweat to eat), with a cultivable area of 4,500 square meters (gmap: 11.883352, -16.100163);
Group B (Start-up and accompanying activities)
- 40 women from the village of Dabatear (sector of Bula) belonging to the informal group “Associaçao dos filhos and amigos de Dabatear” (Association of the sons and friends of Dabatear), with a cultivable area of 2,000 square meters (gmap: 12.084379, -15.745364);
- 32 women belonging to the informal group of the village of Augusto Hoffer (sector of Bula), with a cultivable area of 3,000 sqm (gmap: 12.043771, -15.752978);
- 15 women belonging to the informal group of the village of CassÃ (Bula sector), with a cultivable area of 2,000 square meters (gmap: 12.053397, -15.761944);
for a total of 175 women and about 200 children attending primary schools benefit from a diversified diet, awareness-raising days and environmental education during garden visits.
About 350 families installed in the villages of the Cacheu Region, to which more than 1,050 children belong, who will enjoy the improvement of the standard of living brought by horticultural production activities and a richer diet;
General programming aims to contribute to reducing food insecurity in Guinea Bissau through economic diversification, the recovery of biodiversity and the rebirth of local horticulture, increasing self-sufficiency and food sovereignty and reducing the dearest food imports from abroad. reason for “inaccessibility” to food.
The aim of this project is to “restructure” female work according to an associative model to be used in horticultural campaigns, to structure economic activities by increasing professional training and family income generating activities.
R.1- Reinforce women’s skills in key sectors (literacy, agriculture and marketing, management of associated production);
R.2- Improve local knowledge and technical skills in the production of various horticultural products.
R.3- Development of processing systems for fruit and vegetables.
R.4- Local population informed about the importance of the consumption of local food products and of a diversified diet.