The International Olive Council (IOC) and the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) are celebrating World Olive Day (WOD) today, Thursday 23 November, at the IOC’s headquarters in Madrid. On this day, the millennial olive tree is not the only protagonist of this special event. This important international day is dedicated to the vital role of women in olive oil all around the globe, with the aim of enhancing the knowledge and recognition of their fundamental contribution to the olive-growing world.
For this, both organisations have benefitted from the invaluable support of a number of international associations of women working in the olive sector. These associations have contacted the IOC over the years to offer their support in the organisation of a number of activities. On the one hand, Women in Olive Oil (WIOO) is a global non-governmental organisation bringing together around 2,000 women from more than 40 countries that represent a wide range of professions within the olive oil industry, from farmers, oil mill managers and chemists, to importers, exporters, distributors and chefs. Its founder, Jill Myers, is a sommelier and olive oil ambassador based in Virgina, USA. On the other, the Arab Olive Oil Women’s Network (AOOW), which gathers numerous female sector representatives from the Arab world, was founded by Jordanian engineer Nehaya Almuhaisin, former director of the olive cultivation department of the Jordanian Ministry of Agriculture and h ead of that country’s delegation to the IOC.
The IOC and CIHEAM are also proud to count on the invaluable of support of two Italian associations. On one side, Pandolea, presided by Loriana Abbruzzetti, was founded in Rome in 2003 as a cultural association of businesswomen involved in the production and dissemination of the consumption and culture of extra virgin olive oil, and whose activities focus on the health and nutritional properties of this pillar of the Mediterranean diet. And, on the other, Donne dell’Olio, directed by Mariagrazia Bertaroli, is the world’s first association of women olive growers, established in the year 2000 and which now represents a large cohort of women professionals in the sector. Finally, the organisation of WOD was also greatly supported by Uruguayan economist Laura Blanco, founder of Women and Olives LATAM, who is devoted to contributing to the quest for equality and to facilitating the coming together of women in the olive oil sector.
The IOC firmly believes that this event and the example set by these associations should inspire women from all of its member countries to establish their own female led networks, which will help to reinforce the importance of their invaluable work in the olive oil sector.
The WOD’s engaging programme will include presentations from the aforementioned women representatives of their work in the sector, a compilation of videos exploring women’s vital role in olive oil, the announcement of the winners of the international graphic artwork competition organised by the IOC and CIHEAM, and the reading and signing of a manifesto for a better understanding and knowledge of women’s essential contributions in this field. The ceremony will be led by Emmanuelle Dechelette, renowned olive oil sommelier and founder of the Olio Nuovo Days movement, which celebrates the new harvest in each hemisphere with events and competitions. Not only a certified professional taster, Dechelette is the author of “Extra Vierge”, a fascinating account of the world’s olive oils through which she aspires to develop the sensory education of the global youth.
On this occasion, the IOC headquarters will welcome numerous female representatives of the olive oil sector from all over the world, as well as the diplomatic corps in Madrid and the heads of delegation and high-ranging officials of the IOC’s Council of Members, who will have gathered at the plenary session earlier that day. This event, which will focus on the vital and key contributions of all women to the olive growing world, will celebrate this age-long tree and its essence as a global symbol of peace, tolerance and harmony.