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Women Unlimited

Join Oxfam and celebrate the power of women worldwide. Stand up for their equal right to safe, decent, fairly paid work and a world free from the injustice of poverty.


For the women of the Kirehe district in Rwanda's eastern province, the future is golden, spiky - and organic.


Power, Persistence and Pineapples Rwanda

Work should be a vital route out of poverty for everyone. But for many women around the world, discrimination is holding them back, preventing them from earning a fair, decent, secure living. In Rwanda, however, change is in the air.

Their parliament is 64% female – that’s a higher proportion of women than any other parliament in the world. And with Oxfam’s help, the poorest women in Rwanda are taking up a powerful role in the country’s future too.

This is a lush, green land, where tall forests stretch up beyond the thick mists that settle in the valleys. But in the eastern province, the dry season is longer. That’s why the hardy pineapple has been a saving grace for many women farmers, with its ability to tough out those dry, harsh months.

For a long time, the pineapple farmers of Kirehe were just managing to scrape together enough money to feed their families... if they could get a local buyer for their produce. But the trade wasn’t always there and the constant worry of money was keeping the women down. Would they be able to sell enough to pay for school uniforms, books or even the transport to get the children to school? Even when they did sell enough, the traditional idea persisted that the husband controls the income and how it’s spent.

These struggles become a cycle of poverty that’s hard to break, when you’re trying to get by on your own.

So Oxfam joined forces with a cooperative called Tuzamurane – which means ‘lift one another’. Women pineapple farmers would work together to support each other, grow their income and have a say in life at home and work.

Oxfam has been helping the farmers to grow high-quality organic crops to international standards – and it’s unlocked a valuable market for the cooperative. Now they sell delicious dried pineapple overseas to Europe.

The women take a share in the profits and make decisions on future investment, like healthcare schemes for the members. And now, the good fortune is spreading even further: other farmers are learning organic farming techniques so they can supply the cooperative – and they’re getting a fair price for their produce. Tuzamurane organic pineapples sell for up to four times more.

It’s also made men think differently about their wives and the role they play in the house. Now, there’s so much more to gain from working together – in equal partnership.

The cooperative is going from strength to strength these days – with plans in place for official Fairtrade certification and the ambition to sell their amazing product in more countries around the world.

It only leaves the women farmers – and their husbands – to share the kind of impact this pineapple-powered revolution has had at home.


Theresie Rwanda

Theresie has five children and owns 2.5 hectares of land where she grows pineapples for the cooperative.

"Before I joined the cooperative, I was growing crops to take to the market. When I couldn’t afford school costs the children could not go to school, they had to stay at home. I had no peace of mind. When I saw the children not at school I couldn’t sleep, it was so worrying.

The future was bad, so I looked for ways to grow pineapples. I used to sell one pineapple for 50 Rwandan francs. It was not much.

Then I joined the cooperative, who buy them at a good price. I buy clothes for my children, they get soap and they become smart. I paid their school fees thanks to the pineapple harvest.

I have built a new house, well paved and furnished. I bought a cow, from which I get manure to use in the field. It has two baby cows now. Our cooperative is now well known in Rwanda and even abroad. We feel very delighted."


Valerie Rwanda

Valerie owns five hectares of land, where she grows pineapples for the cooperative. She has five children with her husband Emmanual.

"Before joining Tuzamurane my life was not good. I felt it was short and that there was no vision.

Sometimes we were very hungry. For children to get food and health insurance, all of that was on my head as a parent.

At that time, I had to forget myself, not take care of myself. I had to take care of my children.

When I joined the cooperative, we were trained, we learned and I felt relieved. I was going to change my life.

At the first harvest, I earned a little money and I bought small pieces of land. Each time I got 10,000 Rwandan francs, I could buy a few more meters. With the money I earned, I have also extended my home and we have bought a cow.

It is very important for us women that have joined. Other women say that we don’t live in poverty anymore because we have joined the cooperative.

I feel proud that people respect me and say ‘that woman is on top!’"


Emmanual Rwanda

Emmanual is husband to Valerie – a pineapple farmer and member of Tuzamurane.

"There have been significant changes. We used to have such a small area of land, but due to the cooperative we have now been able to extend it.

I am very proud because my wife has helped me to move forward myself. We have bought land and animals and extended our home. I never dreamed this would happen to us.

I really welcomed the idea of selling the pineapples as I noticed it was changing people’s lives. I thought there would be a change in our life too. Valerie is so hard working."

The women of the Tuzamurane pineapple cooperative haven't just earned enough for themselves - they've transformed the lives of their partners, children and even their whole communities by employing people to help grow the business.

That's the power we unlock when women realise their potential - and it's what Oxfam works to do all over the world. You can support our work with women by taking one little action today.

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Together, we have the power to smash the barriers that hold women back. When that happens, individuals, families and communities all move closer to a future without poverty.

So, please, give whatever you can today, and help women and men to speak out, stop violence, change attitudes and earn a fair living. Women are at the heart of everything Oxfam does, so your donation could support any part of our work.

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