Women are key to the resilience of conflict-affected communities

Women in conflict-affected communities often face multiple layers of disadvantages, including gender-based violence, limited access to education and healthcare, and economic insecurity. These women from various walks of life – mothers of many children, single parents, women in early marriages who could not complete their education often – take heaviest burden of inequality, demanding care work and poverty.

But like elsewhere, conflict-affected women in Georgia have also demonstrated a great resilience, adaptability, and resourcefulness in the face of hardships. In close cooperation with local civil society partners, EU4Dialogue programme helped training 42 women in handicrafts over the past year. In addition, 99 women were trained in entrepreneurship and proposal writing, the majority of whom successfully bid for the grants to receive equipment to advance their businesses.

Sophia Kiknadze, Tea Badzagua, Ilona Mebonia, Teona Mania, and Mzisadar Shonia are among many dozen women that EU4Dialogue proudly worked with together with civil society partners. Their stories reveal their resilience and perseverance – these women have shown remarkable determination in rebuilding their lives, families, and communities.

Sophia Kiknadze, 47

Sophia Kiknadze | Photo: Nino Zedgenidze / UNDP

Sophia Kiknadze has been among 42 conflict-affected women attending handicraft classes, organised by EU4Dialogue partner NGO Hands for Peace in Zugdidi. Sophia is a single mother of three children, who have the status of internally displaced persons from South Ossetia / Tskhinvali region. As a single mother with children to care for, Sophia says she needed a handicraft specialisation that would allow her to work from home. Her talent, passion and dedication for knitting did not go unnoticed – the teacher of the knitting class offered her a job while she was still in class. Sophia has many other passions. Along with knitting clothes, she enjoys knitting toys too, as well as painting. She also enjoys taking care of the garden of her mom’s house – where she currently lives with her children – full of lemons, grapes, feijoa, and flowers. Sophia also admits, that while never having chance to practice law that she studied in college, forensics is still one of her great curiosities.

Tea Badzagua, 41

Tea Badzagua | Photo: Nino Zedgenidze / UNDP

Tea Badzagua | Photo: Nino Zedgenidze / UNDP

Tea Badzagua is originally from the Gali district. Much of her life in recent years has revolved around her children, including her son on the autistic spectrum. In recent years, she has moved to Zugdidi to give her son better access to essential therapy sessions. 

“I have dedicated my life to this so far. Until now, I have been part of this therapy process for my son, which has helped me to see a whole new world. Now I have started to take care of myself too,” says Tea, who had to give up her short career as an English teacher after giving birth to children.

The daughter of a seamstress, she has rediscovered her childhood passion for tailoring and like Sophio, enrolled in handicrafts classes. “Participating in this project helped me to see and discover myself better. And I learned a lot.” Now she is dreaming and working on opening a linen sewing workshop. “It could also serve as a place where children with special needs can learn and develop through sewing,” Tea adds.

Teona Mania, 37

Teona Mania | Photo: Amiran Gogidze / UNDP

Teona Mania | Photo: Amiran Gogidze / UNDP

Teona Mania is an IDP from Kochara village in Abkhazia, currently living in the town of Terjola in the Imereti region. A few months ago, she enrolled in entrepreneurship trainings organised by EU4Dialogue partner NGO Abkhazinterkont, and successfully entered a grant competition to receive equipment for her beauty salon, which she runs with two other IDP women.

Teona notes that with the help of the new equipment, they were able to improve the quality of their services, which in turn led to an increase in the number of clients, who would go to nearby towns instead for the same service. “A customer pays a lot of attention to comfort and service. After we received the new equipment, the number of customers has increased”, she says. Teona and her colleagues are hopeful about the future. They plan to expand their business, including hiring a cosmetologist.

Ilona Mebonia, 42

Women are key to the resilience of conflict-affected communities

Zakro Tskhvaradze and Ilona Mebonia | Photo: Amiran Gogidze / UNDP

Ilona Mebonia, IDP from Sukhumi, is a testament to the resilience and adaptability, and the power of vocational training. Her participation in the trainings provided by Abkhazintercont, gave her the skills and confidence to successfully bid for the grant to receive specialized machinery to make bee racks.

The family of Ilona and her husband Zakro Tskhvaradze and their three children live in the town of Vani, Imereti region. Earlier, Ilona was running a small sewing atelier, which saw a decline in customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting her to engage in beekeeping. But recent fumigations for Asian stink bugs in the area adversely affected their bee colonies. This is how their family came up with the idea to produce bee racks as an alternative source of income, that also addresses a demand for beekeeping equipment in the region.

Mzisadar Shonia, 58

Mzisadar Shonia | Photo: Amiran Gogidze / UNDP

Mzisadar Shonia | Photo: Amiran Gogidze / UNDP

The story of Mzisadar Shonia, IDP from the village Kvitouli in Abkhazia, is a great example of how small assistance can make a big impact for conflict-affected persons. For the past eight years, Mzisadar has been baking cakes in the ABL village of Lia in the Samegrelo region, selling her produce in nearby towns.

Mzisadar was able to successfully compete for a grant from the Charity Humanitarian Centre Abkhazeti, a grantee of EU4Dialogue, which provided her with a new gas stove and other necessary equipment to continue producing cakes. The investment helped her to increase production, while also expanding her customer base and boosting her income.

Disclaimer: This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union and UNDP under the EU4Dialogue project. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union and UNDP.

Originally published at https://www.einpresswire.com/article/651915052/women-are-key-to-the-resilience-of-conflict-affected-communities