Tag Archives: women

For many years civil society organisations, activists, individuals have been fighting for having Law on Gender-Based Violence in Armenia. The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women together with its lawyers drafted a law and presented it to the Ministry of Justice years ago; however, there was no progress with the initiative.
The European Union has offered Armenia human rights budget support for 2017 with conditionalities attached, one of which is that the country adopts a law on gender-based violence in 2016. This condition reflects the importance of stopping violence against women, a value to which the EU strongly prescribes and which it promotes both at home and abroad.
On 14 October 2016, the Ministry of Justice organised a consultation with civil society organisations to engage in the process of drafting and defining the key elements of a law on gender-based violence.
The meeting was moderated by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Vigen Kocharyan, who welcomed this participatory process: ‘This draft law was prepared by a special group and initiated by the Armenian government. This is the first draft to be discussed with CSO representatives. Their years of practice and experience will be highly relevant. We welcome criticism, but mostly we want to listen to what civil society has to offer, both conceptually and detailed analysis of the provisions of the law itself. We are open for dialogue and, while this consultation is the first, it will not be the last’.
CSOs represented included different NGOs and members of Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women. Susanna Vardanyan, Head of the Women rights Centre and a member of the Coalition, welcomed the invitation: ‘We appreciate this meeting and initiative, as we have been fighting for this issue for many, many years. We are happy that the initial draft which we prepared and presented to the government has been partly reflected in the new version. We have discussed it with our lawyers, and prepared some offers and observations’.
The meeting concluded with the decision to organise a second consultation with CSO representatives once the feedback has been incorporated and the draft finalised to engage in a final round of discussions.

On 28 April 2016, all implementers, beneficiaries, partners, and state authorities involved in the “Social and Economic Empowerment of Women in Armenia” project gathered to present the results achieved over three years of project implementation. Within the framework of the project, 55 communities and more than 1,000 participants in Lori region were involved. The project’s goal was to develop women’s social and economic capacities in Lori region, improve women’s social and economic situation, and help them acquire skills to start and maintain a business. After participating in training courses, 38 women and women’s groups received grants enabling them to open up hostels and shops, and to grow and sell produce.
The project was implemented by Armenian Young Women’s Association (AYWA) NGO together with the Lori governor’s office and Vanadzor municipality. Among the 38 beneficiary groups, 30 were women who had never been involved in business. However, the project enabled them to open up their own businesses and to succeed. The women came from communities from across Lori marz in Vanadzor, Alaverdi, Stepanavan, Tashir, Akhtala, Shamlugh, Spitak, Shirakamut, Jrashen Hartagyugh, Jiliza, Karinj, Odzun, Haghpat, Arevashogh, and Shnogh.
13118865_1014620678591861_5367363082037695294_nIrina Movsesyan, Project Manager from the EU Delegation to Armenia, attended the event on 28 April and stressed the importance of women’s empowerment: ‘This project is very important for us because it is about women empowerment, about making them more confident to be able to fight for their rights. The project has had many achievements and good results; however, we hope that all the women involved will continue their activities after project completion’.
The Head of AYWA NGO, Lilit Asatryan, thanked the EU for funding this important initiative: ‘AYWA is continuing to place importance on women’s socio-economic participation in Armenia; this is the core focus of our projects. Our aim is to highlight the importance of female entrepreneurship in our country, as well as showcase women’s business achievements. The “Social and Economic Empowerment of Women in Armenia” project is one we have been implementing with the support of the European Union since 2013. On behalf of our NGO and project beneficiaries, I thank all the partners who participated and made contributions to project implementation. Special thanks go to the European Union, without which this project would not have been realized’.
Two days earlier, on 26 April, an exhibition and job fair was held in Vanadzor in which project beneficiaries participated. The beneficiaries presented how the project had enabled them to start or expand businesses in their communities through both skills provision and grants. Different kinds of businesses were represented: semi-processed food, biscuits, coffee, yoghurt drinks, honey, noodle production, chicken farming, needlework, silver jewelry, tourism, etc.
ARS_5007Lilit Sindoyan, a project beneficiary who has established a silver jewelry studio in Vanadzor, talked about how the project had changed her life: ‘My family and I were planning to leave Armenia. However, I participated in the project and received a grant, which changed our fortunes and made me want to stay. Today, I am happy that my children will grow up in Armenia, in my country, not abroad’.
Visitors to the exhibition learned about the project’s results, were able to network with beneficiaries, and check out their products. The exhibition was accompanied by a cultural programme and master classes run by project beneficiaries. During the master classes, beneficiaries of the project shared their experiences on how to apply for the EU-funded project, and subsequently about participating in the training courses and how to establish their own businesses.

This year, International Women’s Days on 8 March, has been devoted to parity. Therefore, on 11 March, the EU Delegation to Armenia organised a visit for the Ambassador to Armenia’s third city – Vanadzor in Lori region. Ambassador Piotr Świtalski spent the day with women involved in local politics, small business owners, women farmers, and dairy producers. They discussed women’s roles and rights in Armenian society, as well as the success and achievements of women-owned businesses in Lori region. A symbolising aspect of this meeting was that it took place in the ‘Salute’ café; this café was set up with EU technical assistance as part of the ‘Social and economic empowerment of women in Armenia’ project.
Furthermore, the Ambassador gave a speech on the EU’s promotion of women’s rights: ‘I am here to talk about the pledge for parity and the EU’s commitment to the advancement to the rights of women. For us, for the EU, 8 March is not only about presents, congratulations and best wishes, it is an occasion to talk about how to close the gender gap in Armenia, how to eliminate any forms of discrimination of women, and how to promote women’s involvement in politics, business, and all other aspects of social life. My presence here is a testimony of how important this is for us. This importance is based on three considerations. The first is that we believe that Armenia, to move forward, needs to use all of its untapped potential; we consider Armenian women as the biggest source of that unused potential, energy, creativity and talent. There are still few women in Armenia who are engaged in politics or local government. The second reason is that there are still areas where women are discriminated against – in terms of gender equality Armenia ranks 62nd in the world.. There are aspects where Armenia is doing very well, for example, education, but there are other aspects, for example domestic violence, that need to be solved. The third reason is that there is a deficit of trust in Armenia – too many Armenians don’t trust politicians, courts, or even news on TV. No society will move forward without trust. The advantage of women is that, by genetics, they are more trustful. If a society wants to build more public trust, it should involve women in leadership positions’.
ARS_9076After the Ambassador’s speech, beneficiaries of various EU-funded projects made presentations, talked about their activities and involvement in social and political life of their communities, as well as achievements in their own small businesses. They also discussed how the EU could provide further help and support.
For example, Sona Asryan from the village of Odzun expressed how she had taken her first steps in politics with the help of the EU project: ‘I am a member of Odzun’s City Council, and since 2012 I have participated in the EU’s different projects. With the help of the project I have made a campaign for the elections, become more presentable, and now I am more confident during council sessions and make my voice heard. There are 11 City Council members and I am the only woman among them’.
After these talks and discussions, Ambassador Świtalski concluded the day by visiting two community businesses in dairy products and silver production that were established through EU technical and financial support.

“Women’s Entrepreneurship Week” is taking place in Yerevan from 8 to 11 June 2015, organised by the Armenian Young Women’s Association (AYWA) under the umbrella of the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM). The week is co-financed by the European Union in Armenia.
11390234_855879411132656_4648998405416274655_nAs the week began, the Head of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, underlined the EU’s commitment to supporting Armenia in all areas of mutual interest: ‘The EU is the primary donor supporting Armenia and Armenia citizens, particularly women. EU cooperation with Armenia is gender sensitive as equality is at the core of EU-Armenia shared values. There are many projects currently being implemented in Armenia with the support of the EU – many of them are connected to the rights of Armenian women’.
Part of the week will be an international conference of women entrepreneurs entitled “Vision of new developments”. The conference is aimed at presenting the successful experiences of women entrepreneurs from different countries, and sharing ideas and best practices to establish a good basis for further cooperation between local and international businesswomen. This conference offers a good stage for women entrepreneurs to create new links with new potential partners, find opportunities for investment in Armenia, and network more widely with women entrepreneurs on the global level. The explicit goals of the conference are to:
• Create links and strengthen cooperation between women entrepreneurs and business owners in Armenia and abroad;
• Facilitate the development of women’s entrepreneurship;
• Improve the business environment for small- and medium-sized enterprises;
• Promote investment in business and the establishment of joint ventures in Armenia.
Target areas for investment and cooperation in Armenia from women’s entrepreneurship point of view include the education, culture, energy, tourism, and information technology industries, as well as mining, textiles, petrochemicals, and agriculture, among others. Members of FCEM, women entrepreneurs from Armenia and abroad, ambassadors, scientists, and business experts, as well as representatives of state bodies, financial structures, international organisations, the public sector, and mass media, have been invited and are expected to participate in the conference.
11401077_855879464465984_8082348570469790137_nThe President of AWYA, Lilit Asatryan, spoke ahead of the conference: ‘Our aim is to highlight the importance of female entrepreneurship, as well as to give women in business the opportunity to communicate with female entrepreneurs working in various international organisations and/or running large enterprises, which will lead to cooperation’.
“Women’s Entrepreneurship Week” will include other activities, among which study visits to businesses and corporations, a trade fair to facilitate bilateral and multilateral meetings, B2B sessions, exhibitions of work by female artists, and other cultural programmes.

A presentation of the project called “Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-based Violence in Armenia” and working discussion with project beneficiaries took place on 28 April in Spitak at the “Spitak Helsinki Group” NGO’s office. This project is being financed by the EU and implemented by the Near East Foundation UK and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The project will be implemented in Yerevan, Syunik and Lori regions to improve protection, gender equality, agency, and economic independence for women survivors of gender-based violence (GBV).
The official launch of the project was in February 2015 in Yerevan, and the implementing organisations are raising awareness on the project in other regions of Armenia. The first event was in Spitak, Lori region.
The Project Director, Arpine Baghdoyan, presented the project, its activities, timeframe, and the expected impact. The aim of the project is to help 200 GBV-survivors be more employable, gain small business skills, and access economic opportunities safely. As a result of the project, 60 women will be offered tailored vocational training with accredited certificates; 120 will receive targeted business and financial support to start their own micro-businesses; 80 will be offered tailored employment development support. The project is aimed at increasing confidence and self-reliance amongst survivors, so that women can make the choices and shape the choices that affect their lives effectively.
2Z4A9774The “Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia” project will be implemented with four partner civil society organisations. Their role is to engage the public, support groups, employers, and other civil society and market actors across many sectors in joint actions, dialogue, and training on the norms, safe workspaces, and protection strategies linked to economic opportunities. The project will build commitment to preventing GBV and promoting gender equality among community leaders and employers.
The project is due to be completed by 20 January 2017; it has an overall budget of €342,711; 95% of the budget is funded by the EU.

The EU Delegation to Armenia and the Armenian Young Women’s Association (AYWA) organised a press briefing for journalists on 11 March 2015 in Akhtala within the framework of the EU-funded project called “Social and economic empowerment of women in Armenia”. The aim of the event was to introduce the public to ongoing achievements of the project and to celebrate International Women’s Day together.
The head of AWYA, Lilit Asatryan, spoke about the EU’s support for women’s empowerment in Armenia: ‘About 140 women and young ladies have taken part in training courses as part of the project. Overall, about 62 business ideas have been introduced by the participants, 12 of which are group tasks. 14 of the introduced projects have received positive feedback and have been implemented by women: 1 project in Akhtala and 2 in Alaverdi. The other 11 projects that received positive feedback are awaiting final approval with regard to registration and documentation; they will also receive financing in the form of a grant’.
ARS_3253Three women have already received financial support under the project. Armenouhi Mamyan’s bakery was reopened after technical support provision. Irina Israelyan received financial support for developing a hostel business and founding a camping area. Finally, equipment for baking production was provided to Anahit Jaghinyan.
Besides the above mentioned, there is also one project that has received a grant in Akhtala which is a social entrepreneurship project through which a Puppet Theatre was founded. Previously, puppet theatre performances had to be organised in different communities across Lori region.
The Deputy Governor of Lori, Arsen Darbinyan, and the Mayor of Akhtala, Hayk Khachikyan, were present at the event. They actively offered support during project implementation together with the heads of the Akhtala and Alaverdi communities. ‘It will be very good if such kind of projects would continue, because women’s social issues are being solved with their help. These projects are very important for all of us,’ stated Darbinyan.
ARS_3244The Lori regional communities of Aktala, Alaverdi, Shamlugh, Shnogh, Teghut, Medz Ayrum, Odzun, Haghpat, Chochkan and Akori founded “Women’s Councils” within the framework of the project. These councils have actively been taking part in community life, in decision-making processes, in raising awareness on women’s problems, and in solving these problems in cooperation with the wider community.
The EU contribution to the project is €768,357. The programme is being implemented by AYWA, Italian NGO “CISP”, the Office of the Governor of Lori, and the municipality of Vanadzor. The duration of the project is three years, until April 2016.
At the end of the event, a theatre troupe founded within the framework of the project performed “Little Red Riding Hood”.

The launch of the project called “Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-based Violence in Armenia” was held on 19 February 2015 at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Yerevan. This project is financed by the EU and is being implemented by the Near East Foundation UK and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The main goals of the project are: to deliver economic development programmes that support gender equality and protect women against gender-based violence; to help survivors of violence to become a complete part of their community and be involved in community life; to provide women with the opportunity to work in or start their own small businesses.
ARS_2018During the event Arpine Baghdoyan, the project’s director, presented its main foci and expected results: ‘For the implementation of the programme we have chosen four partner civil society organisations (CSOs): Women’s Support Centre, Spitak Helsinki Group, Women’s Resource Centre, and Goris Women’s Development Resource Centre Foundation. The target group of our project will be CSOs, 200 survivors of gender-based violence, 100 community members, and 80 employers of survivors. During the project, four CSOs will engage the public, support groups, employers and other market actors across many sectors in joint actions, dialogue and training around norms, safe workplaces and protection strategies linked to economic opportunities’.
ARS_2052The Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry is based in Gavar and aims to promote sustainable local economic development through market assessment. During the project it will provide business development, micro-credit and training to the beneficiaries of the project. Artyom Grigoryan, the Executive Director of the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the organisation had rich experience in implementing small business grants, and that its initial focus on Gegharkunik marz had now spread to almost all other marzes in Armenia: ‘We pay great attention to the issue of women’s employment – it is a particular problem in villages. While there are a lot of job opportunities in Yerevan, there are very few opportunities in rural areas. Our own experience shows that women, for example, not only come up with more successful business ideas, but also have the agency to make them a reality. After our different training courses we run, men generally write business concepts, which are more difficult to realise, whereas women always write realistic and small budget ideas which can easily be implemented’.
ARS_2043The project named “Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia” will build commitment to preventing gender-based violence and promoting gender equality among community leaders and employers. Over a period of two years 200 survivors of gender-based violence will be offered assistance: 60 women will be offered tailored vocational training with accredited certificates; 120 will receive targeted business and financial support to start their own micro-businesses; 80 will be offered tailored employment development support. The project aims to increase confidence and self-reliance amongst survivors, so that they can then make and shape those choices that affect their lives positively.
The project is due to be completed by 20 January 2017, with an overall budget of €342,711. 95 percent of the budget is funded by the EU under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.


On 5 August a presentation on a Local Economic Development (LED) model for Spitak and its neighbouring communities took place in Spitak, Lori marz. The event was organised by the Armenian Young Women Association (AYWA) within the framework of the project called “Social and Economic Empowerment of Women in Armenia”, financed by the European Union.

The communities included in the LED were Lernantsk, Jrashen, Lernavan, Saramej, Shirakamut, Geghasar, Sarahart, Shenavan, Kharadzor, and Ghursali.

Economic development stakeholders from the communities took part in the event, including representatives from the local authorities, the private sector, and civil society. ‘We are glad that AYWA has been able to work with not one but a wider group of communities, at the same time noting the prospects for community development and cooperation between them,’ said President of AYWA Lilit Asatryan. She added that, through LED, model development involving all stakeholders would enable transfer of socio-economic knowledge, as well as would encourage and promote community participation.
Economic development directions and perspectives, competitive advantages, existing and potential economic relations, and local resource-based projects and steps were presented and discussed during the event. These will support the local economic development in the communities concerned. Results of ongoing initiatives were presented by the local team and external experts.

Small-scale local economic projects are developed as part of the project, aimed at strengthening economic growth among communities. These projects are based on the competitive advantages of individual communities. Using the LED model, educational and awareness-raising training, workshops and discussions will be conducted to foster entrepreneurship among women. Additionally, direct financial assistance coming from the EU will be provided to project beneficiaries for business projects to promote the local economy.