Dare to Become Aware

Alice Nignan, a 40 year old mother of five, works with the Women Producer's Union of Shea Butter Products in Burkina Faso. The income that she earns helps her buy food staples and medicine for her children when they are sick. This year she hopes to save enough to buy a bicycle so that she may more easily travel to work. (Photo by Eric St-Pierre)

Dare to become aware! On International Women’s Day the world will turn its attention to promoting equal access to education, training, science and technology. The goal is to lay a pathway to decent work for women. At Ten Thousand Villages, we’re excited by the positive changes that we see happening around the world every day!

In Burkina Faso’s Sissili province, a third of all women are involved in shea butter producer groups, groups that provide remarkable and essential opportunities.

The cost of schooling is beyond the means of most families, and those who can afford tuition often enrol only male children. As a result, an estimated 88% of rural Burkinabe women are illiterate and possess limited technical skills. 

To address this urgent need, shea butter producer groups offer technical training, literacy and marketing classes, marketing opportunities through trade fairs, and a pooling of resources to allow the purchase of presses that reduce the work in butter production to a fraction of that previously required.

The most significant benefits are perhaps the least quantifiable: because income earned through shea butter sales constitutes a significant proportion of many families’ earnings, woman producers gain greater influence in their households, meaning that the extra earnings allow daughters to attend school, or fund the purchase of bicycles to facilitate transportation. 

Education and awareness are powerful things. When open minds are nurtured the seeds for change are sown. As our global awareness develops, the world becomes a better place.

Dare to become aware!