Laureates 2010


ASIA · India

Turning a village into an aquarium!

Her teaching obligations at the university did not prevent Anna Mercy (56) from developing a highly original pioneering project to improve the living conditions of the village of Kumbala in the State of Kerala. After having studied the breeding of ornamental fish, for the first time ever in India she successfully developed a technology for raising 15 different species of ornamental fish in the Ghats region. She then decided to initiate rural women in the breeding of these fish.

Read more: Anna MERCY

Anne Stella FOMUMBOD

AFRICA · Cameroon

A unique Charter for widows

The rural women of North West Cameroon produce 60 per cent of the region’s agricultural output. However the means they dispose of are very elementary and they hardly enjoy the fruits of their harrassing labor. So Anne Stella set up a series of innovative programs to help them.

Read more: Anne Stella FOMUMBOD

Dorothy AWINO

AFRICA · Kenya

Land rights for women: a development “must”

The question of women’s access to property is a major issue in many communities. In Kenya, women furnish 80 per cent of agricultural labor and produce 60 per cent of agricultural income, whereas only 5 per cent of them own land. The common belief is that women are not trustworthy and hence do not deserve to inherit and dispose of property, which acts as a major obstacle to the rights of women and children and constitutes a major hindrance for development.

Read more: Dorothy AWINO


AFRICA · Benin

An innovative approach to microfinancing

Juliette Ketehoundje (37) from the village of Allohounkodota in the Zakpota district of Benin, did not let poverty and illiteracy prevent her from becoming an uncontested leader in her community. Juliette is extremely dedicated, intelligent, serious and dynamic. Her commitment to the eradication of famine and poverty and the mobilisation of women is exemplary. Working directly with rural women, she is helping them change their lives through the innovative micro financing system known as “African Women Food Farmer Initiative” (AWFFI). Beginning with a group of 20 women, she doubled that number after one year. Now she is the president of a group called “Soudjagbè” with 3000 members. It is comprised of about 150 women’s groups of around 20 participants each.

Read more: Juliette KETEHOUNDJE



Walking, walking … to protect the environment

Since her childhood, her love of exploring has led Kikuchi Konomi (44) to open the way for other women. Devasted by the suicide of her first husband, she decided to transform this tragedy in a manner that would be of service to all.

Read more: Konomi KIKUCHI

Narmada Baldeva GOND

ASIA · India

A Ghandian Adivasi warrior changes a whole region

Narmada Baldeva Gond (60) is an outstanding rural tribal woman of the Adivasi community. The Adivasis (aboriginal inhabitants) are among the most despised and disadvantaged people of the subcontinent. From an illiterate laborer who was expelled from her forest with thousands of others, struggling to make a livelihood of 20-35 Rupees per day (55-90 US cents), she became the main organizer of a whole region and has given back pride to the downtrodden.

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ASIA · Laos

From dependency to a partnership of equals

The director of a cotton business known as “The Ngeum cotton group,” Nuansy (44) has radically changed the lives of the women of her village.

Read more: Nuansy RATANASITHY


ASIA · Turkey

Happiness is part of development!

While working as a teaching assistant in one of her country’s top universities, Nurcan Baysal (35) packed her bags to return to her hometown in Diyarbakir. Turning her back on a brilliant academic career, she decided to fight for the underprivileged of her region. Her good fortune was to be able to persuade the Ozyegin family, one of the country’s leading philanthropists, to partially fund a project which rapidly led to a country-wide integrated rural development program and one of the most ambitious efforts to tackle poverty and inequity in Turkey, the ‘Ozyegin Foundation Rural Livelihoods program’. It has a unique philosophy linking the development of economic opportunities with tools for empowerment and social mobilization.

Read more: Nurcan BAYSAL

Pratibha Rajesh BUKKAWAR

ASIA · India

Revolution in Daryapur

In a world where around one billion people survive precariously on approximately one dollar a day, food is the number one basic necessity for survival. Born in Daryapur near Amravati (Maharashtra State), Pratibha (39) grew up in poverty, so it was easy for her to grasp this fact. Having acquired skills in the field of food processing, she decided to start a food-based cottage industry called Trinetra Mahila Gruh Udyog (Third Eye Women’s Cottage Industry) in September 2005. Starting with five rural women preparing special food formulas reproducing the tastes of certain dishes consumed locally, the number of women employed rapidly grew to 750, all illiterate and living below the poverty line, and working out of their homes. Further democratizing the process, she shared her Research and Development efforts with these women, later enabling them to become stakeholders of the ingenious food production system she had created and even involving them in policy decisions.

Read more: Pratibha Rajesh BUKKAWAR

Santosh Bai SAHARIYA

ASIA · India

Fighting harmful traditional practices

Santosh (30) is a member of the most vulnerable of tribal communities, the Saharoya, who depend for their survival on meager forest products. Married at 15, she gave birth to two children and soon after her husband died. She then committed herself to ending harmful myths and practices, poverty and discrimination against women. She protested vigorously against a tradition, which forced women to walk barefoot, saying that as long as men were not submitted to the same rule, she would refuse to pay the 50 Rupee fine for wearing shoes. She managed in this manner to eliminate a tradition that did much harm to women and encouraged others to follow suite. She also managed to introduce penalties on violence against women (the most widespread underreported crime on the planet), thereby gaining much recognition amongst women.

Read more: Santosh Bai SAHARIYA

Wendy Jasmine PEKEUR

AFRICA · South Africa

A trade union for those who feed the nation

Wendy Jasmine Pekeur (31) is the General Secretary of ‘Sikhula Sonke’, a South African trade union, which represents rural women farmers. Wendy’s ambitions were conceived in her childhood, when she worked on the farm of her grandparents in the province of Western Cape. At the age of six, she witnessed violence in her home due to her father’s use of alcohol and drugs.

Read more: Wendy Jasmine PEKEUR