PARIS – Angelina Jolie, Guerlain and UNESCO on Wednesday celebrated the first graduates of their Women For Bees program.
The entrepreneurial program, announced in March, aims to empower women by helping them care for bees, an endangered species. The course gives women theoretical and practical training during 30 days.
Starting on June 21, seven women were trained at the French Observatory of Apidology in France’s Provence region.
In rural areas, beekeeping can generate income for people who do not own farms and improve food security in places where agricultural production is minimal.
Guerlain has a longstanding commitment to empowering women and protecting bees — the symbol of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned brand and a key ingredient in some of the house’s products, such as Abeille Royale skin care.
Helping bees is something anyone can do, according to Jolie, who fronts the program and is the face of the Mon Guerlain scent.
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“You don’t have to have a large amount of land,” Jolie said during the ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. “You could keep a few bees, you could plant a few flowers, you could spread a bit of awareness. You can support other initiatives – projects like this. It’s just changing your mindset. It’s appreciating pollinators, understanding how your food is connected and little things – little kids can just throw a few seeds.”
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Jolie has served for almost a decade as a special envoy to The United Nations Refugee Agency, or UNHCR, focusing on major crises resulting in mass population displacements. She has helped fund and build schools for girls over the years in countries such as Kenya, and was incredulous that there should still be discussions about why this is important.
“It’s angering, really,” she said. “But we just somehow have to keep explaining this. It’s their right. A girl is born, and she has the right to an education. That’s her life.
“I love to see women reach their full potential,” continued Jolie. “I know that a woman who is educated educates others. The reason why this sisterhood is so important is because I know that the women who received their diplomas today will be sharing knowledge, will be raising up others around the world. I’m sure of it.”
Jolie called the programs like Women For Bees “the only way forward.”
“I don’t think we can continue on the path we’ve been on,” she said. “It’s simply not sustainable. If companies want to make beautiful things, have business, they have to grow more responsible to improve,” she added. “I see no end to what that improvement should be. It’s hard for the consumer to know who is doing what and how. So, this is a good step.”
During the first two years of the Women For Bees program, the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves will include locations in Sila in Italy; the Central Balkans, in Bulgaria, and Kafa in Ethiopia. The aim by 2025 is to have 2,500 hives built in 25 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, the restocking of 125 million bees and 50 female beekeepers trained.
The protection of bees is a core part of Guerlain’s commitment to sustainability. During the past 10 years, the brand has been involved in six partnerships to preserve bees.
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