Khelvachauri Women’s Room is taking its first steps in helping women access public resources voice their opinions and participate in local self-governance. The Women’s Room model that is being replicated in Ajara was first established in three municipalities of Kvemo Kartli from 2012 and subsequently in all municipalities of Kvemo Kartli and Samstkhe-Javakheti. The first opened in Batumi with the Association of Business Women of Ajara (ABWA) in the Ajara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) was the first of all a new type of urban and business based women’s room, with the ideas of providing business trainings and an urban connection for the municipality based women’s rooms already opened in Keda, Shuakhevi, Khulo and Khelvachauri municipalities and soon to open in Kobuleti. The rooms are proving popular with these WR’s already providing more than 1200 services in three months.
The Women’s Rooms are a municipal service, a resource and consultancy space for facilitating open dialogue between local society and municipality officials, aiming at promoting women’s participation in the decision-making at the local level and increasing their access to municipal information and services including on health care and agricultural programmes. Women’s Rooms also offer a platform for trainings and meetings, supporting new initiatives and instilling women’s active participation. The space has been taken up quickly with the Association of Young Lawyers and the School of Democracy using the rooms to raise women’s awareness on human rights, economic and educational opportunities. Visitors can use library and internet for free. All of the Women’s Rooms in Ajara are easy to access on the first floor of municipality buildings and can be freely used by people with disabilities for meeting with Gamgebeli and other officials to speak about their issues. Gamgebelis hold weekly meetings with local citizens in the W’s Rs. A Free hotline number (Khulo 0 800 100 109; Shuakhevi 0 800 000 008; Keda 0 800 100 103; Khelvachauri 0 800 100 106) allows rural women to voice their issues in the Gamgeoba.
Women’s Room coordinators and municipal Gender Advisors, were trained on the importance of women involvement in decision-making using guidelines on The Application and Implementation of the Law on Gender Equality of Georgia by local self-government bodies to increase women’s participation in the community meetings, that was resulted in significant increase from 3% (2014) to 33% (2016) of women’s participation in these meetings.
To find out more about W’s Rs ongoing activities, visit Ajara (Batumi,Khulo, Shuakhevi, Keda, Khelvachauri), Kvemo Kartli (Dmanisi, Tsalka, Tetritskaro, Rustavi,Marneuli, Aspindza) and Samtskhe Javakheti (Akhaltsikhe,Adigeni, Borjomi ) W’s Rs Facebook pages.
4 Beehives and their inhabitants from the high mountains of Ajara started their new life on the terrace of one of the largest Hotels in Batumi, Georgia, the Hilton Batumi, to produce honey for hotel guests. The General Manager of the Hilton, a keen birdwatcher and conservationist had the idea, seeking to showcase the beautiful countryside of Ajara and take this first step in illustrating the story of locally sourced food and the people who produce it.
By linking the hotel with the Ajara Beekeepers Business Association, the hives were installed. Urban beekeeping is increasingly popular in Europe as bee colonies decline and new ways are sought to develop a more ecologically sensitive lifestyle as urban centers grow. The Hilton also installed a honey showpiece at the breakfast buffet, of mounted honey comb, a large map of the 10 honey production gorges of mountainous Ajara and the indigenous flora on which the bees feed with the honey and comb sourced through honey producing company Matchakhela Ltd.
These initiatives which form a part of the ALCP programme’s work in the honey market system illustrate the great potential of the honey sector to feed into the promotion of Ajara as a great and varied tourist destination.
Income received from the Hotel hives will be donated to children in need in the rural municipalities.
News travels fast and perhaps other hotels may take up the initiative now it's been advertised through the Hilton chains newsletter.
Posted by Helen Bradbury: Team Leader, Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme
ALCP has been featured on BEAM Exchange. See the story below.
Rural farmers can only grow their income when they have access to the drugs and veterinary services to keep their animals healthy and growing too. Alliances has partnered with a national veterinary inputs supply company to improve access to drugs, information and vet services for poor farmers in rural Georgia. There are strong signs competitors are seeking to replicate the model, which is also scaling up nationally and in neighbouring countries.
Over 2 million people in rural Georgia rely on subsistence farming, typically owning less than one hectare of land. SDC has been funding a series of programmes in Southern Georgia since 2008 to improve the livelihoods of livestock farmers.
During initial surveys, Alliances learned that less than 10 per cent of farmers were accessing veterinary drugs or services in their community, in rural vet pharmacies mainly self-stocked from trips to Tbilisi. Others bought drugs when travelling to the capital. In the rural vet pharmacies a limited range of often improperly stored drugs were sold at high prices due to the resultant transaction costs. Local advice was minimal, unavailable or out of date. This had led to a lack of farmer trust in local veterinary products and services and unwillingness to invest.
Suppliers had failed to grasp the market potential of developing rural distribution, lacking both the information and capital to do so. The uncertainty about whether farmers would buy their products meant the perceived risk held suppliers back from making the first move.
Name: Natural Produktsia Ltd
Place: Dioknisi Village, Khulo Municipality
Type of business: Cheese Factory
Product: Imeruli Cheese
Suppliers: about 450 women from 13 villages of Khulo
Current production per day: 5 tons of milk (700 kg of cheese)
The 450 women now selling milk directly to the milk collectors of the Natural Produktsia Ltd Factory in Dioknisi, Khulo used to make cheese from their milk. Women are responsible for milking the household cattle and making the cheese, butter, sour cream and cottage cheese which is then sold as an important part of the family’s livelihood.
Selling these products however is hard and uncertain. The journey by marshutka to Batumi Agrarian Market can take up to 4 hours on bad roads. It is taken to the market by husbands or other male family members or sent with the driver and met by a relative who then tries to sell it. There is no guarantee of a sale and often the family is forced to accept a low price from the market vendors rather than take it home again.
“Women in Georgia – Tradition and Contemporaneity” is a short documentary film prepared by ‘Netgazeti’ (online newspaper) about women living in Ghordjomi Community (Khulo Municipality, Ajara). Ghordjomi is one of the largest Muslim communities in Ajara and is known for its early marriage traditions, and other strict rules and attitudes towards women. The film describes the harsh daily routine of the women starting from 6 am in the morning with taking care of the cattle, children, household and the restrictions they face in daily life.
The ALCP AJ programme’s Focus Group Survey and Gender Analysis captured these issues and also noted the consequent effect on the participation of women in the decision-making processes at the community and local governmental levels which is chronically low.
From the ISET Economist Blog (http://www.iset.ge/blog/?p=4633)
By Eric Livny
The “do no harm” (primum non nocere) principle is well known to students of medical schools. It is one of the most fundamental maxims in medicine, as formulated, for example, in the Epidemics book of the Hippocratic Collection:
“The physician must … have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm“.
Doctors are taught that medical interventions are not risk-free. Thus, when facing a “problem” one should consider whether to use a particular procedure (e.g. surgery or chemical treatment) or do NOTHING.
Not surprisingly, this very principle has applications in many fields other than healthcare. And it is high time for this principle to be studied and applied in Georgian policymaking.
By Helen Bradbury: Team Leader, Alliances Lesser Caucasus Programme
We are in an interesting conundrum. Gender in most places has been written-in to law. Bar a few notable exceptions, every country in the world, has varying degrees of success in applying universal suffrage. Fifty countries are signed up to the CEDAW convention (the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women). On the CEDAW world map of Discrepant Government Behaviour Concerning Women, the countries shaded dark green which denotes ‘virtually no enforcement of laws consonant with CEDAW or such laws do not even exist’, are where you expect them to be and in fact they are relatively few. It is the next two categories which disturb, covering the vast majority of the globe, the mid and lighter green, where laws are partly or fully consonant with CEDAW but there is little effective enforcement or spotty enforcement of them and the issue is low priority or hit and miss. After the gains, the laws and ratifications of the last centuries it seems that we must tread very carefully indeed for we must counteract indifference, in which inertia and inactivity stop us moving forward.