A Christian Aid Tajikistan partner wins the Equator Prize for sustainable development at the Rio+20 Earth Summit.
‘I used to feel like an eagle, just observing things from a distance, but I realised I had to get to the heart of the issues.’
Muhabbat Mamadalieva, 55, founded Christian Aid partner Zan va Zamin – or ‘Women and Land’ – with other female activists to give a voice to the rural poor in Tajikistan and help them overcome the social and economic challenges after a civil war following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
And so as Muhabbat arrived at June’s Rio+20 Earth summit to accept - on behalf of Zan va Zamin - an award for outstanding contribution to sustainable development, it’s safe to say she’s certainly established herself in the heart of her fellow Tajiks.
Protecting people and the planet
The Equator Prize 2012 is an award for showing leadership in promoting alternative, innovative ways to build resilient communities and protect both people and the planet.
Muhabbat said: `We are honoured to win this prize. It inspires us for our future activities in protecting the environment, improving women’s living conditions, and building sustainable and resilient communities. As a result of this prize, we will be able to further our work.'
Watch a video interview of Muhabbat talking about climate change:
Civil war in Tajikistan, followed by a process of rapid de-development, left millions living in poverty and caused mass male labour migration. Today, women and children are particularly vulnerable.
Muhabbat explains: `One million Tajik men are working as economic migrants in Russia and many never return. The burden of household responsibilities falls on the shoulders of the women while 90% of workers in the fields are women too.
`We work with women to rightfully obtain their land, grow their own food and provide for their families. My proudest moment was visiting a woman who had been left by her husband and left with nothing.
`I visited her after we had helped her; she had a big smile on her face and offered me a basket of vegetables she had grown.’Further links
• Find out more about Christian Aid’s work in Tajikistan.
• Christian Aid at Rio+20.
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