When it comes to taking up social and environmental causes, actress and director Angelina Jolie has never been afraid to get her hands dirty. Her latest project will see her mentor an entrepreneurship programme to help women beekeepers around the world.
Announced in time for International Women’s Day, Jolie has been named "godmother" of Women for Bees, a partnership between storied French cosmetics brand Guerlain and Unesco.
The Oscar winner has been the face of Guerlain since 2017.
Set to begin on Monday, June 21, Women for Bees is a 30-day training programme taking place at the French Observatory of Apidology in Provence, France.
A total of 50 women will be selected from five different Unesco biosphere reserves over the course of five years. Each participant will be taught the theoretical and practical bases of the various aspects of beekeeping, including the running of a professional apiary.
The objective is to empower women through sustainable professional activity, Guerlain said. At the end of the training, the participants will have acquired all the knowledge to sustain their bee colonies, become fully professional beekeeper-entrepreneurs as well as members of an international network of female beekeepers, and share their skills to help train others.
The bee is of special significance to the French brand after it became an emblem on one of its first perfume bottles in 1853.
"When women gain skills and knowledge, their instinct is to help raise others. I'm excited to meet the women taking part in this programme from all over the world," Jolie said.
“I look forward to getting to know them and learning about their culture and environment and the role bees play in that. I hope the training will strengthen their independence, their livelihoods and their communities.”
Over the five years, Jolie will meet with the female beekeepers, from Russia to Cambodia and Ethiopia, and learn about their progress. Guerlain and Unesco hope to have built 2,500 hives around the world by 2025 and “restocked” 125 million more bees.
Jolie has spent almost two decades working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Among her many environmental causes is a foundation she runs in her son Maddox’s name in Cambodia, which provides support to rural local villages and help protect endangered wildlife and forests.
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