First profession and job at the age of 46
“I had this idea in my mind that if I ever started working, I would not be able to manage all the work around the house. Village life is what it is. There is always something to do. I was not going out much either because I was mostly taking care of the household. Last year, when I started going to work, I was 46 years old. Since then, I have been filled with some different sort of energy which helps me get out of bed every morning,” says Zina Tsartsidze, a resident of Ani village in the Akhaltsikhe municipality, who now works as a cook at the local kindergarten.
Zina has always enjoyed cooking, but she could never imagine that a pastime she loved so much could also become profitable. She started pondering this change just after a meeting with Taso Foundation: “It was when I started going to the meetings that I realized what rights I had as a woman, and I knew I could start working notwithstanding my age. These meetings gave me strength and helped me decide to study culinary skills at a professional level,” Zina recalls.
Zina is one of the many women to have won study grants and has received funding for a culinary course. At first no one, not even her own family members, believed she would be able to master this new profession or start work, however Zina graduated from the course with merit, became a certified cook and gained employment at the newly opened kindergarten in her village.
It has already been seven months since going to work became a part of Zina’s everyday life. Her professionalism makes her a key asset in maintaining the quality service delivered by the kindergarten: “My life has acquired a totally different feeling of joy. Working with kindergarten students, I am filled with an amazing feeling of positive energy,” Zina tells us.
Alongside Zina, the lives of hundreds of other women living in rural areas have been positively impacted by the activities implemented by Taso Foundation, the Kakheti Regional Development Center, and CARE Caucasus, all within the scope of the UN Women “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus” project. More than 50 women have received professional study grants, mastered their dream professions and found employment based on professional skills acquired through the education they have received. Furthermore, over 150 women have received small-scale economic grants and started financially profitable activities. Some of these entrepreneurs have become employers themselves and provide for the financial well-being not only of their families but of their communities as well. Like Zina, these women have become role-models for positive change: Zina’s story has already positively impacted other women in her community. As she tells us, they too have become more daring and motivated, and that is why Zina does not plan on stopping where she is now. She hopes to proceed with her education and deepen her knowledge even further.
This UN Women regional project – “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus” – is being carried out with the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) and the Government of Slovakia.