Posted: Fri 4th Mar 2016

International Women’s Day and Fairtrade Fortnight:

This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 4th, 2016

Council hears from inspirational speakers making a difference to African communities ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Monmouthshire County Council marked the start of Fairtrade Fortnight by hosting a seminar featuring three inspirational speakers who shared stories about the lives of communities in Africa. The seminar – entitled Monmouthshire Making a Difference – was run in conjunction with the council’s International Women’s Day events. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Ugandan Coffee producer Nimrod Wambette from the Gumutindo cooperative is working with Fairtrade Wales during Fairtrade Fortnight. He described the difference Fairtrade has made to the venture, improving working standards and income for farmers while establishing women and girls as equals in a male-dominated world. Nimrod said: “The coffee is produced by women, managed by women and decisions are made by women!” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Monmouthshire social worker Grace Bridgewater has set up the charity Msinai Wa Tumaini to protect and empower women and girls in her native village in Kenya. Grace spoke of the need for child protection awareness in the community with the charity aiming to provide education and confidence to change the lives of women and girls while working with teachers, local police and local families. Grace firmly believes from personal experience that: “The opportunity to an education is the most powerful gift that could be given to girls – it will change their lives.” She added that the key to changing perceptions is a cultural change. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Zimbabwean teacher Martha Musonza Holman came to Wales in 2009 and is passionate about giving women and girls a voice in a country that is reluctant to allow them. Martha lives in Abergavenny and the locally-based Love Zimbabwe project raises money for a community centre she has helped to establish in her native village. Love Zimbabwe has illustrated the challenges that the community faces and volunteers from Wales who have visited the village have become advocates for the project. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Love Zimbabwe uses traditional African crafts to raise funds for the project and some of the work was available to buy at the seminar as well as from a number of stalls displaying Fairtrade produce and offering a taste of Ugandan coffee. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

County Councillor Phil Hobson, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for community development said: “I am humbled by the inspirational stories I have heard today and will never drink a cup of coffee in the same light. The work of Fairtrade Wales is fantastic and I thank the organisation and all the speakers for their time taken to come along today. It’s a very clear reminder of the plight of people across the world and makes me feel very lucky to live and work in Monmouthshire – we really have many things to be thankful for. Today has been the start of our International Women’s Day celebrations on 8th March 2016.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

For further information on Fairtrade produce contact Monmouthshire’s Sustainability Policy Officer Hazel Clatworthy – ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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