Grace Aboh Dotou – Benin

Linked with F-information – Genève. (Grace Aboh Dotou’s portrait en français), et avec ‘Qui dit mieux?‘.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “Our greatest assets are people and our natural resources, which need to be valued more if they are to become competitive”.

The experienced fingers of 20 women crochet strands of plastic into one-of-a-kind gifts in a shop in Porto-Novo, Benin’s capital: These women, led by Grace Dotou-Aboh, began their business, Qui Dit Mieux?, in 1996. They collect plastic bags littering Benin’s streets, clean them and transform them into beautiful purses, bags and dolls. The group has received international recognition for raising environmental awareness and for teaching women skills – and independence. (full text).

grace abo dotou - Benin.jpg

Grace Aboh Dotou – Benin

She works for the Association for the Development of the Women of Sédji (not mentionned in the internet).

Madame Dotou Grace Aboh (62) has a lot of expertise in the socio-cultural reintegration of inmates of detention centers which has brought her international fame. This led to her being asked, at an international level, to form and organize women in the African sub-regions of the west, specifically Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger and Guinea Bissau. Her expertise is also sought by Congo, Chad and Cameroon. All these countries have benefited from her know-how in the areas of the promotion of women, the improvement of the environment, the improvement of the living conditions for women and children and, finally, the improvement of the financial capacities of women from portable activities.

Grace Aboh trains women and young girls in activities likely to increase their income and improve their living conditions of their families. She initiated an ambitious program of recycling of non-biodegradable plastic bags. She understood from the outset that if nothing is done, this refuse will have a serious effect on general life.

So, she has made bags, clothes, table mats, etc with the plastic bags that are thrown in the streets and in the public garbage disposals in the cities and countryside.

Without more recycling, Grace Aboh realizes, communities are permanently in danger from the plastic bags that are thrown into the environment. Madame Dotou Aboh works in a difficult environment due to the fact that the majority of people are unaware of the danger that plastic bags have on the environment because of their non-biodegradable characteristics. In her initiative to recycle bags, she is also mocked by people who see her and her team collect bags in the streets and in the public garbage disposals.

Since 1980, Grace Aboh has used the theater, the media and training to inform and educate communities so that they can change certain habits that will have a negative effect. She also uses these different channels to promote peace and prepare the mind for the improvement of the environment.

Because the majority of the people are illiterate, they do not always realize it is necessary to promote women. Grace Aboh can already claim some victory since there are households that do not mix plastics bags with the domestic garbage anymore. More and more women come, of their own accord, and ask to be trained in the transformation of agricultural products to finished goods. Thus, numerous Benin people have taken advantage of Grace Aboh’s skills, a woman with steely courage who does not mind sifting through garbage to find used plastic bags in the hope of recycling them.

She shows a creative spirit while showing that one can find in the environment a wealthy resource of benefit to the economy of her country. She showed with her recycling initiative that one can find wealth in garbage. For those who are familiar with the streets and paths of our cities and towns littered with plastic bags, there is place to recognize that Grace Aboh contributes in a substantial way to the cleaning of her environment and to give women confidence again. (1000PeaceWomen).

Role models like Dotou-Aboh are important for young girls in Benin because old laws and tribal customs are oppressive for women. A wife often is considered to be inferior to her husband, according to Y-Press interviewees, and Beninese culture accepts domestic abuse. In the workplace, women may be seen as unable to handle finances or leadership roles. Customary mindsets perpetuated by child marriages, child prostitution and polygamy present barriers for women, according to a 2006 U.S. State Department report on human rights. (full text).

L’usage des sachets plastiques non biodégradables se renforce dans les zones urbaines et s’étend également vers les zones rurales à un rythme accéléré. Les rues, les arbres, les décharges sont jonchés de sachets plastiques qui offrent à la faveur des vents, un spectacle qui fait réfléchir.

Cette présence devient endémique et pose problème de traitement après usage, à cause de la nature non biodégradable de la matière de fabrication. En dépit de l’absence de données statistiques exactes, la quantité de sachets plastiques consommée par jour, par nos grands centres urbains notamment Cotonou, Porto-Novo, Parakou et autres est en nette augmentation.Le contexte créé par la variabilité et l’adaptabilité des formes, du volume et de la résistance des sachets plastiques mis sur le marché ainsi que l’extrême diversification des couleurs, des usages et le prix d’achat constituent des indicateurs certains qui attestent que les populations continueront d’avoir recours à ce type d’emballage.

Jetés dans les rues, amassés çà et là, ces sachets polluent l’environnement et leur présence permanente est incommode. Dans cette hypothèse, la recherche de rechange utilitaire constitue une démarche corrective.

Cette situation préoccupe depuis un bon moment Madame Grâce ABOH DOTOU, Fondatrice de l’ONG Féminine « Qui Dit Mieux » de Porto-Novo. C’est pourquoi elle a choisi de mettre en place un projet de récupération utilitaire et artistique des emballages plastiques qui inondent nos villes et nos campagnes. Aussi à long terme, il y aura la diversification d’activités pour mettre un nombre plus important de femmes au travail.

Nous avons depuis huit ans, acquis de très riches expériences dans le domaine de la collecte et du recyclage des sachets en plastique. Ceci nous a valu le prix mondial de la protection de l’environnement et de la lutte pour l’éradication de la pauvreté. Depuis nous sommes invités un peu partout en Afrique pour partager lesdites expériences avec nos frères et sœurs africains. (texte entier).

These women, lead by Grace Dotou-Aboh, began their business Qui Dit Mieux? in 1996. Some had spent the past 14 years performing plays to raise awareness of women’s rights and opened their own business to further that cause. Now, they collect the plastic bags that litter Benin’s streets, clean them with bleach, and transform them into beautiful purses, bags and dolls. The group has received international recognition for raising environmental awareness and for giving women a skill to earn money — and independence. Role models like Dotou-Aboh are important for young girls in Benin, a country where, due to old laws and tribal customs, women have a history of limited opportunities. (full text).

links:

WiLDAF/FeDDAF – West Africa – WOMEN, LAW and DEVELOPMENT in AFRICA;

Histoires de boites à couture / Sewing box stories;

Courants de femmes.

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