A first-hand account from a woman in Armenia who wished to remain anonymous.
Just one year ago I had a very different life. I had no profession and my relatives did not consider my opinion in family-related decisions, I felt unfulfilled and very unhappy. Only one year has passed, and now I have a completely different life.
I had always dreamed of receiving a good education, but my parents did not support this ambition because they believed that a woman’s happiness and purpose in life comes from getting married. Sadly, my husband thought the same way, so I never received the support and encouragement I needed to pursue my dream. This made me unhappy and vulnerable to mistreatment from my parents, husband, and environment.
In 2015, I learned about a project named “Advancing gender equality and the rights of survivors of gender-based violence in Armenia’’ being implemented in Lori region by the Near East Foundation. The project provides an opportunity for vulnerable women to receive vocational training in the desired field and to start their own business. I couldn’t believe coming across such an opportunity, and knew that this would my chance to pursue my dream and make something of myself.
Through the project, I attended vocational training to become a beautician at the best beauty salon in Vanadzor. In the beginning, I did not want to take the risk of developing a business plan and did not imagine that I would ever be able to start my own business. After some months of attending trainings my confidence grew, and I realised that I did want to have my business. To my amazement, my business plan was chosen by the selection committee and I received a grant to buy items to start my own at-home salon!
After opening my salon, day by day the numbers of clients increased – as did my income. After only a few months, I knew that my profession would provide me with a reliable income. At the same time, another beauty salon—impressed by my skills and business knowledge—incited me to work part-time in their salon.
My husband and my extended family are much more supportive of me now. Having my own business gave me a confidence I didn’t know I could have—I feel like a brand-new woman! I feel so happy and proud that I could take control and improve my life for the better.
Thank you for continueing to make stories like this possible!
Facing extreme poverty, many refugees seek work despite restrictions in the countries they now reside, engaging primarily in informal, low-wage and short-term manual labor with high risk of exploitation. Additionally, poverty among Lebanese increased 61 percent since 2011. Refugees are widely viewed as the cause of declining wages, joblessness, and poor working conditions in Lebanon. Like refugees, poor Lebanese work in informal and temporary jobs; a third of Lebanese youth are unemployed.
Households experience weak and irregular income, struggle to manage expenses, and engage in harmful coping strategies. Worsening conditions and unequal access to assistance fuel refugee and host community tensions.
The primary goal of NEF's work in Lebanon is to reduce the vulnerability of refugee and Lebanese households and increase access of individuals to livelihoods information, skill building resources, and referrals. Lebanese and refugees rank employment and income-generation as their highest priorities. They require safe opportunities to build skills and generate income. This project answers that need with community-based livelihood support hubs, life and technical skills training, and support to home-based productive activities.
In the past five months alone the NEF team in Lebanon, along with our project partners, have conducted the following activities in the areas of Minieh, Berqayel, and Taanayel as part of our project to help economically empower Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese families. Between community outreach events, training of trainers sessions, business development trainings, awareness and protection sessions, and branding and establishment of NEF's Siraj Centers (safe spaces for learning and training), it has been an enormous undertaking.
As you can see the great work of NEF’s field teams continues and NEF as an organization is reaching more and more people in need. Thank you for your continued support!
NEF UK and GCCI gather key stakeholders to discuss the important role they play in protecting against gender-based violence and advancing gender equality and the rights of survivors of gender-based violence in Armenia
NEF UK and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) organized a special event that included a presentation and exhibition on Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia, a project financed by the European Union and implemented by NEF UK and GCCI.
The event held earlier this year, provided an opportunity to explore the role of Armenian civil society organizations, private sector organizations, and government agencies in promoting women’s rights and gender equality among vulnerable groups of women through the delivery of economic development programs.
Ms. Line Urban, a representative from the European Union (EU) delegation to Armenia, gave opening remarks at the event where she emphasized the important role the program has played in advocating for gender equality in Armenia. NEF UK and GCCI highlighted the impact of the EU-supported project and showcased an exhibition of project beneficiary business products and services. Attendees were also able to hear directly from beneficiaries who shared the successes they have achieved through the project.
The event helped attendees to identify the primary causes of gender-based violence in Armenia, what role they can play in the prevention of gender-based violence, and how their organizations can help support the economic stability of survivors in the future. The key findings of the three working groups (government agencies, civil society organizations, and victims of gender-based violence) were shared and discussed among participants at the end of the event.
The project is being implemented in Yerevan, Syunik, and Lori regions in partnership with the Women’s Support Centre, Women’s Resource Centre, Goris Women’s Development Resource Centre Foundation, and Spitak Helsinki Group.
Since its launch in January 2015, the two-year project has helped 230 survivors of gender-based violence gain increased employability, small business skills, and establish small businesses. Seventy women received vocational training in various specializations, 130 received financial support to start their small businesses, 80 developed career development plans, and 50 women found employment in the labour market.
Thank you for your continued support to help vulnerable women in Armenia!