Grantee Highlight: Environmental Evolution

Smiling Chinese woman wading in river, towing a boat

You wouldn’t think a 160-page book could change the way Chinese communities protect themselves against pesticides. But Pesticides & Breast Cancer: A Wake Up Call did. Translated by grantee partner Eco-Women, it’s the first book published in China linking pesticide use with breast cancer. The unassuming, slim volume directly challenges agriculture policies of the world’s biggest user, producer, and exporter of pesticides.

“Before our book, people in rural areas didn't know pesticide use was related to breast cancer.”
– Ji Min, Director of Eco-Women, a Global Fund for Women grantee partner

“Before our book, people in rural areas didn’t know pesticide use was related to breast cancer,” said Ji Min, Director of Eco-Women.

A Global Fund grant helped Eco-Women pay the high registration fee for an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). They created educational material for rural women farmers, many of whom are illiterate and rarely leave their village.

“Global Fund funding isn’t just money,” said Ji Min. “At the very beginning, Global Fund supported us with money and encouragement to grow up, survive, and develop a systematic working strategy.”

Since women make up 60 percent of China’s agricultural labor force, you would think they would be major players in agriculture policy. But they aren’t. And China isn’t the only offender. Women and girls were nowhere on the agenda at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil last spring.

Yet Eco-Women has succeeded where others have failed. They connected and established relationships with women in government, professors, NGOs, and media to educate and advocate. Now, some government officials reference the Eco-Women book when considering pesticide free solutions to crop control. Most tellingly, in 2010, when Eco-Women ran out of books, the Yunnan government gave them money to print 2,000 more.

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