International Day of Rural Women

Supporting agritourism supports rural women’s economic empowerment

Date: Tuesday, October 15, 2019

In Georgia, the agritourism sector is mostly female-dominated. Despite its considerable potential to attract tourists to Georgia and improve life in rural communities, the sector lacks regulatory frameworks, hindering its development.

Tamar Ghvaladze, Winemaker from western Georgia, Imereti region
Tamar Ghvaldze, Winemaker from western Georgia, Imereti region; Photo: UN Women/Tako Robakidze

When UN Women, in partnership with the Georgian Farmers’ Association (GFA), launched a project to support rural women entrepreneurs in 2018, most women interested in the initiative were those engaged in either agricultural activities or guest-house management. UN Women organized an international study visit to Tuscany, Italy in November 2018 primarily for the participants to exchange experiences in winemaking, but it inspired an even more robust result: the drafting of an agritourism law. The legislative and executive branches of the Georgian Government have been engaged in the drafting process since its inception.

The legislative initiative was the main topic of a consultative meeting held on 15 October 2019 in Tbilisi to commemorate International Rural Women’s Day. The draft legislation aims to support the development of rural tourism, increase sales of local agricultural products, promote Georgia’s agritourist potential and improve entrepreneurs’ access to financial resources.

Otar Danelia, Chairman of the Agrarian Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia; Ekaterine Mikabadze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development; Gela Khanishvili, Deputy Minister of Agriculture; and women entrepreneurs from rural regions engaged in agritourism business participated in the discussion.

The women entrepreneurs underlined the importance of the legislation. Tika Didishvili, owner and manager of the family guest house “Green House” in Zugdidi and producer of Megrelian hot sauce (Adjika), noted: “The law should define the compliance criteria for agritourism businesses. It is not enough to provide accommodation for guests; it is important to offer safe, quality agricultural products. This will attract guests, increase income and require farmers to produce healthful products, which will impact the development of agritourism.”

Mr. Danelia further remarked: “Regulating the sector through law is very important. This will revive the rural regions and create success stories. We welcome this initiative and will support the adoption of the respective legislation.”

UN Women continues consultations with women engaged in the agritourism sector. As a next step, the draft law will be submitted to the special working group consisting of relevant Ministries and Parliament representatives for further follow-up. This initiative is part of the project “A Joint Action for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Georgia” implemented by UN Women with financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.