The EU closely cooperates with Georgia to assist progress towards reforms that will help to strengthen the country and improve the living conditions for its citizens. Gender equality is at the heart of this cooperation. Supporting women’s initiatives in different areas, promoting a fair society where men and women have equal rights, and providing opportunities for quality education are key areas of focus for the EU’s support.
In this article, Georgian women share how they benefited from opportunities offered to them thanks to EU-Georgia cooperation. Their stories show how this cooperation is helping to change lives for women across Georgia on a practical level and make the country stronger.
Maia and Lia: the refugees cultivating a new future in agriculture
Lia Kekelishvili and her family moved from South Ossetia following the conflict in 2008 and settled in Tsinamdzgvriantkari village in the Mtskheta Municipality. She is one of the founders of the agricultural cooperative “Gifts of a Forest”.
“Together with other women who also moved from the conflict zone, we decided to start harvesting and processing traditional and organic ‘Askili’ rose hip,” she says. “It is a healthy and vitamin-rich plant. Its extract is used to make tea or juice in Georgia.”
The women persisted and received an EU grant of €25,000. The money allowed them to buy greenhouses and drying shelves, and develop their small business further.
Recently, they obtained a bio certificate that allows them to sell their products to the USA. The certificate proves that the plants they extract from grow in an ecologically clean environment, and 18,000 bottles of rose hip extract have been exported to the USA so far.
The women say that they found a business niche that was previously underestimated by the other village inhabitants. They use the land of other people and the income they make from the business helps their families to survive in a new place. “This business has changed our lives and the lives of our families,” Lia concludes.
Author Gvantsa Nemsadze
This article was produced in the framework of the ‘EU NEIGHBOURS east’ project. The views expressed are solely those of the author of the article.