Project Report: Empowering women in rural Georgia

Grantee: Partnership for Education and Communication, Georgia 
Project: Strengthening the position of rural women through public and
 economic participation

Despite positive legislative and policy frameworks concerning gender equality in Georgia, women still face significant challenges in terms of participation in local decision-making processes, especially those women living in rural areas. Partnership for Education and Communication (PEC) has responded this challenge in several ways, by providing training, networking, and mentoring opportunities to the most marginalised and under-served women in rural communities. 

Project participant, Venera Lipartia. Photos by Biological Farming Association Elkana.

The project, supported by the BEARR TRUST, aimed to support rural women’s public participation and economic empowerment using the innovative evidence-based â€œintegrated capacity strengthening model” (ICSM) and establishing online networking platforms in four municipalities of Georgia. In the framework of the project, we planned to have face-to-face training, but lockdown meant we had to shift training online. Fortunately, this gave us the opportunity to reach more women. As a result, 120 women from four municipalities – Khelvachauri, Senaki, Kharagauli, Dusheti – and the surrounding villages were able to come together. The sessions helped participants to raise their awareness of the importance of self-empowerment and to develop action plans.The long-distance training series had two parts: first – building beneficiaries’ capabilities in terms of public participation, leadership and developing action plans. The second part entailed training on entrepreneurship and developing marketing strategies for rural women’s local produce. 

Another aspect of the project was focused on increasing networking among rural women, local decision-makers, CSO actors and entrepreneurs by developing an innovative online mentoring and networking platform www.mentoring.ge. Shortly after launching the platform, mentoring.ge became a hub for long-distance counselling and networking, and the most effective way to find information on existing opportunities, local and international resources, engage with local CSO leaders, entrepreneurs and decision-makers through our mentoring programme and get their advice in real-time. On the request of the participants, most active mentees and mentors were united through a Facebook group: Mentors also tracked the implementation of participants’ action plans and provided real-time assistance. The most active mentees took part  in a Concluding Workshop: Participants – alongside CSO actors and successful entrepreneurs as guest speakers – summed up the project’s results, shared best practices and lessons learned, and shared personal stories about how the project highlighted the need to engage more women in local decision-making and economic participation.  

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Photo by Mariam Iobadze

Vera Metreveli, Pasanauri, Dusheti: 

“When you are young woman with two small children in a highly mountainous village, no one expects  you to be active in public and economic life. Young women face many stereotypes. No one gives us information when public hearings or village meetings take place. Economic opportunities are also extremely limited. A lack of access to vocational education programmes isolates us further. Through this project, I met wonderful women from different villages; we shared our stories and together discussed ways  to make a change. Now I am working with my mentor on finalising a business idea to engage local women and I plan to apply for the state grant programme, â€˜Enterprise in Georgia’.” 

Lela Kurtanidze, Goresha, Kharagauli: 

“Unlike some villages of the Kharagauli municipality, my village is isolated and local youngsters believe that nothing new happens here. I always wanted to conduct a civic initiative project involving young girls here, but did not know how or where to start. This project helped me to recognise my position as a woman who wants to make small changes in her community, define a smart goal and develop a self-empowering action plan. Now I am confident and have concrete steps as to how to increase awareness of youngsters and involve more young girls in my village in local decision-making processes.”  

Through social media campaigns we try to ensure wider access to project results and achievements, best practices and lessons learned for general society in Georgia. With the support of the BEARR Trust within this grant scheme, we were able to develop two learning video animations for rural women interested in public or economic empowerment, and infographics, which are available on our Facebook page

Contact:  
Zhaneta Kilasonia, Executive Director 
E-mail: j.kilasonia@gmail.com or info@pec.org.ge 
Partnership for Education and Communication (PEC) 
Website: www.pec.org.ge 

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