Project report: exchanging experience
New opportunities for women
Grantee: MIR – Office for Initiatives Development, Tajikistan
Project: “Women’s joint work – effective foundation for preventing domestic violence”
Isfara and Bobojon Gafurov are rural districts of Tajikistan, where gender stereotypes and a lack of legal awareness have limited the participation of women and young girls in the decision-making process, both in the family and in social life. By combining the efforts of rural women leaders and women journalists to carry out an awareness campaign about domestic violence prevention, and presenting examples of women’s activities in their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic through media and social networks, we were able to draw attention to existing problems at a local level.
The Women Leaders’ Association, “Zanoni Sulhovar”, regularly conducts activities to raise popular awareness about gender equality, the increased involvement of women and girls in public life, and domestic violence prevention in six communities across Isfara town and the Bobojon Gafurov district. The main purpose of these activities is to engage women and young girls in community life and encourage them to speak out against domestic violence.
As longstanding evidence in the field of gender inequality reduction has shown, economic insecurity is the main factor inhibiting women and young girls, particularly rural women from remote villages, from improving their status and role in their family and society. Several projects aimed at teaching new skills and entrepreneurship to women and girls who have suffered domestic violence were implemented within the project “Women’s joint work – effective foundation for preventing domestic violence”. An initiative was organised by the Women Leaders’ Association in Isfara town, Chorku village, in which 10 women and girls from vulnerable groups were able to organise joint income-generating activities: they purchased 1000 kg of apricot stones, shelled them, and sold the kernels in a local market. 100 kg of apricot stones produced 30 kg of kernels. The women purchased more apricot stones with the funds they earned. This is a very common type of business in Isfara – an accessible and easy form of profitable work for women.
“With the support of local entrepreneurs, we purchased a small machine that splits the stones mechanically, so the women just have to sort the kernels, which makes their work easier. The members have already started selling kernels and are receiving a small income for their families”, said Avezova Nodirakhon, one of the active members of Women Leaders’ Association.
Another initiative was to conduct masterclasses on handicrafts in Histevarz jamoat and the Bobojon Gafurov district as a moneymaking enterprise. With the help of craftswomen invited to give masterclasses, girls and women from deprived backgrounds learned how to embroider traditional, national scarves and decorative cushions and to sew soft toys. Information sessions on domestic violence prevention were conducted during the masterclasses by the Women Leaders’ Association in the Bobojon Gafurov district. Upon completion of the training, an exhibition was organised in which the works of participants were displayed. Participants in the masterclasses are planning to continue improving their skills, selling their products and thereby increasing their income.
All these examples of active work by members of the Women Leaders’ Association on were presented at the final forum, “Exchanging Experience: new opportunities for women”, where representatives of crisis centres, public organisations, and public authorities working to prevent violence discussed joint initiatives to combat gender-based violence and new approaches to work during the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A forum dedicated to increasing the role of women in society and reducing the level of domestic violence, with the participation of representatives of public authorities working to prevent violence, public organisations, media representatives and active members of the regional Women Leaders’ Association gave all of us an opportunity to integrate”, Khursheda Khojazoda, Chairman of the Department for Women and Family Affairs of the Sughd Region.
The project, “Women’s joint work – effective foundation for preventing domestic violence” became a platform for discussing community problems, an opportunity to help women who have suffered from violence, and a tool for capacity building among female leaders from rural communities to enable them to work on female empowerment in their villages.
Journalist, blogger and consultant for MIR – Office for Initiatives Development