Strong Women Strong Integration

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Tsisana's son helps her in sewing linen

Shida Kartli, the region most severely affected by the 2008 Georgian-Russian war, is home to more than 16,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs). In addition to the dysfunctional buildings they call “home”, they have limited opportunities for income generation, leaving many of them trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.

Unemployment remains one of the biggest problems for female IDPs in Georgia. Many displaced women have had to assume new roles and responsibilities, including the socio-economic sphere.

Experiences of war and displacement have seen many IDP women increasingly become the primary breadwinners in their households. Funded by the Austrian Development Agency, World Vision began a project in 2013 that aims to enhance economic security and empowerment of IDP women in Shida Kartli. The project supports women from 11 settlements of the Shida Kartli region and helps them to improve their families’ economic security through professional and business skills trainings, start-up business support and an internship programme.

Tsisana Shoshitashvili is one of the 48 beneficiaries whose business proposal was funded within the project framework.

When the war came in 2008, Tsisana, her husband and their three children fled their village of Qsulisi, located just two kilometres away from Tskhinvali, the largest city in South Ossetia. They left their home and everything behind. To make matters worse, her husband died from a chronic illness shortly after the conflict, leaving Tsisana as a young, homeless widow with three children to care for with no where to go; their home had been destroyed and their village remained cut-off from Georgia. After several months of wandering from one place to another, Tsisana and her three children found shelter in the centre for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Khurvaleti where they remain to this day, five years later.

Their living conditions were very difficult. With no reliable source of income, her family often did not have enough food to eat. The family’s income was based on temporarily and lucky-day job opportunities for her and a government stipend of 150 GEL ($80 (USD)) a month.

“I was searching for opportunities to improve my family’ s living conditions,” she says. “When I heard about World Vision’s trainings in business, I thought to myself that this could be a chance for me,” she remembers.

After the trainings, Tsisana prepared a business proposal which she submitted to World Vision. She wanted to start a sewing business, but needed a sewing machine and other materials to get started. The Strong Women Strong Integration programme helped her get started by funding her proposal.

“Before writing the proposal, I made a small assessment in the settlement,” she explains. “I asked if people would buy linen sewed by me and what an acceptable price would be for them. Then, I calculated the income and applied for the grant,” said Tsisana.

After her business project was funded, Tsisana was able to see that her calculations were very accurate. Despite the fact that her small business is quite new, it has already succeeded. Tsisana began sewing linen first. Soon, her customers said they also needed curtains. Now, she receives up to 10 orders a month, allowing her to earn 200-250 GEL ($120-140 (USD)) a month.

She has already used all the fabric purchased by World Vision and bought more, twice. Her mother (who also lives in the centre for internally displaced), explained that: “with this business she became stronger and now manages to take care of her children much better”.

Tsisana’s two daughters are students. They both study in the capital and have received governmental grants for being outstanding students. Her 14-year-old son lives with her and Tsisana’s goal is to give him a good education also.

Thanks to the Strong Women Strong Integration programme, Tsisana is no longer afraid of the future. With what she earns from her sewing business and the social support she receives from the government, she can rest easy that her family’s essential needs are met and her children no longer must face hunger.

Unemployment remains one of the biggest problems for female IDPs in Georgia. Many displaced women have had to assume new roles and responsibilities, including in the socio-economic sphere. Experiences of war and displacement have seen many IDP women increasingly become the primary breadwinners in their households.

Funded by the Austrian Development Agency, World Vision began a project in 2013 that aims to enhance economic security and empowerment of IDP women in Shida Kartli. The project supports women from 11 settlements of the Shida Kartli region and helps them to improve their families’ economic security through professional and business skills trainings, start-up business support and an internship programme.

News Source : Strong Women Strong Integration

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