Laureates 2015


Women unit to protect their land from mining

AMUPPA, The Association of Women Protectors of the Wetlands and Watersheds (Asociación de Mujeres Protectoras de Paramos y Cuencas de Agua), is an organization that aims to preserve rural land threatened by a mining project in the highlands of Peru. In 2005, some of the women who were to be the founding members of the organization (Cleofe Neyra and Elizabeth Cunya) participated in a peaceful local march and were kidnapped alongside twenty-six other protestors and held captive for three days. Despite this, these women went on to officially form AMUPPA in 2008, demonstrating outstanding courage and an indomitable spirit when it comes to protecting their rights as rural women.

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Ana Elfa Zambrano - Colombia

The importance of environmental ethics

Ana Elfa Zambrano (56) a rural woman whose community work has aimed at the defense of the collective rights of the rural community. In her work on behalf of her community, she has facilitated training processes for the empowerment of women; promoted rural culture through reading, music and dance; and founded and administered a community aqueduct, among other things. In addition to her all-important work with the aqueduct—which has brought water to the homes of 50 families, reduced the hours spent by women fetching water, and which provides treated, clean water to the community—Ana Elfa also promotes environmental ethic among the youth by teaching a class during the week to share knowledge on environmental and historical values of natural resources.

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Anitaben Dindor & Kailashkunvarben Chauhan - India

Trained rural women are Key for development

Anitaben Dindor & Kailashkunvarben Chauhan, both trained SEWA members (Self Employed Wmen's Organisation), share one prize.
After following a training in assembling solar lanterns, Anitaben Dindor now trains groups in assembling solar lanterns. She goes weekly to the villages of Dungarpur to assemble solar lanterns and if asked she also goes to other villages to repair lanterns. She is paid Rupees 50 (less than 1 US$) per lantern assembled and is able to assemble 1-2 per day. The difficult terrain of the Dungarpur district is contributing to the problem of attaining electricity connections and consequently only 33% of the households are connected to the network.

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Emilie Alauze - France

A trailblazer for biodiversity

Emilie Alauze (34) is a winegrower in the Hérault region of France. She was nominated by colleagues within a viticulture network for her work in creating and developing tools to help viticulturists in the region effect preservation of biodiversity and the quality of water. Through her work, particularly with the program she created called "Biodiv&Eau" (Bio diversity and water), she has taken steps to coordinate the actions of diverse actors in the interest of biodiversity: viticulturists, local collective organizations, environmental associations, and hunters. She has also instilled agro-ecological infrastructures favorable to biodiversity. Her work also emphasizes the protection of water quality.

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Genni Maria Segura Pinto - Costa Rica

An indigenous leader who loves her community

Genni Maria Segura Pinto (34) is a Cabecar indigenous woman living in the mountains of Costa Rica. As a leader of a group of women artisans, she has worked to improve the skills and financial independence of herself and her fellow community members. Despite the fact that she never went to school when she was younger, she can speak Cabecar (the indigenous language), Spanish, and English, and uses these skills to translate between community members and visitors. In this way, she has been instrumental in connecting her indigenous community to the outside world in order to access such modern needs as improved healthcare or technology for education. However, her language skills have also enabled her to promote and protect the Cabecar culture by educating visitors. She ensures income for herself, her family, and the people in her community through a visitor program she co-designed, where visitors have an opportunity to learn more about the culture and its contribution.

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Haoua Djidere - Cameroon

An activist for women's rights

Haoua Djidere (45) is a woman farmer who is nominated for her work in sustainable and organic farming techniques, for organizing women farmers in the region, for sharing knowledge and information among them, as well as spurring activism for demanding her rights as a rural woman, and for serving as a role model for women in her community. When Haoua began working the land in 1999, she quickly united working women within the same zone as her to form the Jardinière interest group within Groupement d'Intérêt Communautaire (GIC). In 2000, this group obtained legal recognition.

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LauriMaya Thami - Nepal

Dismantling caste-based discrimination

LauriMaya Thami (60+) is a rural woman who lives in the Jumla district, where the human development index is the lowest of any other area in Nepal. Thami is changing oppressive cultural norms in her village—she became a widow 14 years ago, and refused to wear the traditional garb of widows that allows society to stigmatize them. As such, other women are following suit. She has also been working to dismantle the oppressive practice of chhaupadi (where women are moved into isolation and are considered untouchable during menstruation) of child marriage, early marriage, and caste-based discrimination.

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Mary Kwena - Kenya

Boys and girls together for a cultural shift

KENYA - Mary Kwena (29) is a woman who has dedicated her career to fighting for women's rights and empowering rural communities in East Africa. As a Program Associate for the Girls' Advancement Program within the Asante Africa Foundation, Ms. Kwena has pioneered sustainable education and sanitation, sexual maturation, health and hygiene training programs, and financial education initiatives to empower and educate rural girls in marginalized communities. She has impacted the lives of over 4'000 girls and has created discourse surrounding traditional community practices that are harmful to women.

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Valliammal Rajan Palniyappan - India

A committed community leader and teacher

In 2003, Ms. Valliammal Rajan Palniyappan (45) (Valli Krishnaswamy) a lawyer by trade, left Bangalore in order to address problems in rural areas that were causing mass migrations to urban areas, whereupon migrants were further marginalized. She started the Anisha Foundation in order to train marginalized farmers to convert to organic farming, improve degraded soils, create women's self-help groups, develop income-generating activities for farming and landless women, help establish organic kitchen gardens, set up seed banks (to improve sustainability and self-sufficiency), and build a resource center with demonstration plots. These activities have enabled community members to reduce the cost of cultivation, yield more crops, stabilize and improve income, and reduce debt. Some tangible results include:

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