Project report: Gender Equality: the key to empowering women and eradicating poverty

Grantee: International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), Armenia 
Project: project on gender equality as a key to the role of women and poverty reduction, focusing on family entrepreneurship in a single village, and to create a community-based NGO. 

Our programme this year was carried out in exceptional conditions, both because of the coronavirus epidemic and the war in Nagorno Karabakh. 

However, our organisation has volunteers in the community we have chosen, thanks to which the programme yielded some positive results. In the early stages of the project, when there were no restrictions on communication, we were able to implement some of the activities we had planned. This stage was marked by training sessions with rural women and girls. Two initial groups were formed for the seminars, the young women and girls of the village were the most active. Over the course of several meetings, we held interactive discussions on human rights and gender equality. 

The human rights courses were attended by more women than planned, mostly young girls. By the end of the training sessions, we had decided to form a non-governmental organisation from the participating women, which in the future will raise community issues, issues of rural women, as well as issues of women’s employment and starting a business. Currently, the initiative group is in the process of drafting the charter and state registration. 

The second part of the programme coincided with the deepening of the coronavirus epidemic in Armenia, and we were forced to move our meetings online. In honour of our partners, I must say that several participants were provided with smartphones for the purposes of remote communication.  

The participants were very interested in establishing a small business in the community. The professional courses  involved  practical tasks. The participants described their programmes, which were discussed with a specialist trainer. For example, one of the participants, Shaizad Davtyan, conceived a business plan to open a beauty salon, which was revised by experts and approved by a specialist from the State Credit Fund. The process of opening the salon is now underway. The Sargsyan family also devised a plan to improve their livelihood by establishing a greenhouse, and so on. The programme was not large in scale and opportunities, but it was quite effective and presupposes continued access to new funds. 

The beneficiaries of the programme participated in Small Business Start-up and Management courses online and learned how to secure low-interest loans. Small business plans were drawn up. Preliminary discussions are now taking place on the financing of these programmes by the National Fund. 

An active women’s assistance group was formed by the active women of the village, which aims to become a non-governmental organisation in the near future. 

Unfortunately, the impact of the programme was somewhat diminished due to the war in Nagorno Karabakh. 

Contact details:
Article and photos by Ani Sukiasyan
Vice President, ISHR Armenia

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