Benin: Grace Aboh

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

— Grace Aboh

A national of Benin, Madame 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 subregions of the west where different countries have benefited from her know-how in the areas of the promotion of women, the improvement of the environment, living conditions for women and children, and, finally, financial capacities of women.

Grace Aboh looks for ways that will enable Benin people to ensure their economic independence through decent work. She 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 non-biodegradable plastic bags. Madame Dotou understood from the outset that if nothing is done, this refuse will have a serious effect on general life. It was for this reason she thought of recycling it. So, she has bags, clothes, and table mats made from the plastic bags that are thrown away on the streets and in public garbage disposals. Without recycling, Grace Aboh realized, plastic bags eventually will become a problem for communities. Living in an evironment where the support of women is still needed badly, this courageous woman has led a lot of initiatives. Grace Aboh was born in Porto Novo in 1943. She did her primary and secondary studies from 1951 to 1963 and, in 1964, got an elementary Certificate of Educational Aptitude. In 1980, she created the first women’s theatrical group “Qui dit Mieux.” In 1994, the year of her retirement, she decided, with some friends, to establish the Association for the Development of the Women of Sédji. In 1995, the association quickly started training at a center for girls in Kouty to learn soap manufacturing, the preparation of gari (granulated cassava flour), palm oil, and groundnut oil. Grace Aboh is very interested in environmental issues and her association today is active in planting thousands of trees. She has been awarded several prizes: the Prize of Excellence in the Craft Industry, the National Lottery Prize for Excellence and, finally, the UN Prize for the Eradication of Poverty and Protection of the Environment.

Association for the Development of the Women of Sédji