A new space for women’s empowerment in Azerbaijan

Date: Thursday, October 17, 2019

Providing effective support to disadvantaged rural women in Azerbaijan requires not only sustainability but also a physical space where women can meet.

Cutting the ribbon to open the Qusar Women’s Resource Centre, (from left to right) Mr. Alessandro Fracassetti, Prof. Hijran Huseynova, Mr. Elman Mustafayev, Dr. Simone Haeberli, Ms. Mehjabeen Alarakhia
Cutting the ribbon to open the Qusar Women's Resource Centre, (from left to right) Mr. Alessandro Fracassetti, Prof. Hijran Huseynova, Mr. Elman Mustafayev, Dr. Simone Haeberli, Ms Mehjabeen Alarakhia; Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan

This is why UN Women supports the establishment and development of women’s resource centres (WRCs) in the target regions of Azerbaijan. These spaces aim at nurturing entrepreneurship and supporting self-employment, which leads to improved, sustainable incomes and empowers women and local communities.

Two WRCs have been actively working in the Khazar district of Baku and in Sabirabad, and both are supported by the UN Women project implemented in partnership with UNDP and funded by the Governments of Switzerland and Austria. The third WRC was officially opened on 17 October 2019 in Qusar.

Like the other centres, the Qusar WRC plans to be a space where women will be offered trainings and professional masterclasses on topics such as how to start and manage a business, how to apply for grants, how to improve communication and presentation skills, and how to write a curriculum vitae for a job.

Women from Qusar and neighboring villages participating in the opening ceremony
Women from Qusar and neighboring villages participating in the opening ceremony; Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan

Before the official opening, the Qusar WRC had already offered some training activities on how to start a business. The training graduates also showcased their ideas in the competition “Start and Improve Your Business”. Among the winners were sisters Aisanam and Layla Hajievas, who were awarded with grants to start their businesses. “The resource centre helped us unlock the opportunities that we were not able to see before,” Layla explains. “We learned many things about how to dry, package and sell fruit. Now we are running a business that no one has had before in Qusar.”

Kamila Najafova, coordinator of the Qusar WRC, thinks that this space also helps the local women to broaden their outlook. “This is an opportunity both for financial empowerment and socialization as well,” she notes. “The women leave their homes and attend the meetings, at the very least. They may never become our members, but they are breaking the ice and are escaping from their isolated environment.”

Approximately 530 women have joined WRCs across the three regions. The project “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus” is implemented by UN Women Georgia and funded by the Governments of Switzerland and Austria. Project activities in Azerbaijan are implemented in partnership with UNDP Azerbaijan and the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs.