Photo: Nana (Naku) Gamkrelidze

Marking International Day of Rural Women, UNDP joined efforts with the Government of Georgia, the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC), the Swedish Agency for Development Cooperation (Sida) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to reiterate support for women living in rural areas and stress their crucial role in the process of rebuilding the economy after the pandemic-driven crisis.

“Women bear a greater share of the hard times during this pandemic – and that's especially true of women living in rural areas. But we also know with the right support they can be the agents of change that can help improve the lives of their families and their communities,“ UNDP Head Nick Beresford noted.

On 15 October, UNDP announced the winners of a grant contest for women entrepreneurs. The competition was carried out in partnership with Georgia’s Government Administration and the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure with financial support from the governments of Austria, Sweden and Switzerland.

The winners were selected from nearly 600 applications by a competent jury completed by representatives of UNDP, Government Administration, Parliament, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure.

Winning business ideas cover a wide range of economic and social areas, including the production of solar heaters, eco-tourism, publishing fabric books for children and 24 more projects contributing to local development and women’s participation.

Each winner will receive up to GEL 5,000 to implement their projects and will benefit from business consultations that will help them develop and expand their enterprises.

UNDP assistance draws on the resources made available by the two robust programmes focused on advancing gender equality and fostering regional and local development in Georgia. Supporting rural women has been a cornerstone of both initiatives though it gained particular importance during the pandemic crisis.  

As a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report found, rural women are disproportionally affected by health and economic crises in a number of ways, including food security, access to health facilities, services and economic opportunities. Georgia is not an exception.

According to the 2021 Rapid Gender Assessment of the COVID-19 Situation in Georgia, the pandemic deepened existing gender inequalities in Georgian society. The pandemic increased women’s already uneven domestic care burdens due to the closure of schools and the additional care needs of elderly and sick household members.

To address these challenges, UNDP has introduced a robust set of initiatives focused on supporting vulnerable women from rural communities.

Over the past year, UNDP supported 31 rural women-led family business projects with a total of US$25,000. To help alleviate the pandemic’s impacts on the most vulnerable households, UNDP distributed US$90,000 worth of agricultural support packages (including electric-powered backpack sprayers, fertilizer, pesticides and other agricultural tools and inputs) to 620 women farmers in seven regions of Georgia.

Together with national partners and donors, UNDP supports women-led economic initiatives and fosters gender equality in politics and public life. Making all levels of decision-making processes more representative will lead to more fair and equitable national and local policies and will help Georgia ‘build back better.’  

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