Empowering women through entrepreneurship

A good practice example from the European Training Foundation (ETF) looks at a training programme in Armenia that supports women survivors of gender-based violence to gain the knowledge, skills and support structures to start their own business or find employment.

In many countries, women continue to be under-represented in the workforce. While entrepreneurship can be an effective way of helping women find employment and gain financial independence, a lack of access to education, training, finance, business support measures and mentors makes getting started a challenge. 

As part of its work to understand the situation of women’s entrepreneurship in countries bordering Europe, the ETF identifies good practice examples in the area of women’s entrepreneurship to share with training providers and policy makers.

One example is the Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence programme in Armenia. This innovative training programme provides vocational training for women survivors of gender-based violence, enabling them to plan, organise, finance and manage their own small businesses.

While many women in Armenia are highly educated, the presence of traditional male-female roles, together with a lack of childcare and flexible working conditions, restricts women’s economic opportunities. Domestic violence against women is also widespread.

Funded by non-governmental organisation the Near East Foundation and delivered with the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the programme works to empower women survivors of violence through employment opportunities.

Hasmik Khachatryan is one women who has benefitted from the programme’s support. After enduring years of beatings and psychological abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, Hasmik fled with her two children to the capital Yerevan.

As part of her rehabilitation, she was selected to participate in the programme, and it was here that she learnt the skills she needed to set up her small bakery, specialising in traditional baklava recipes from the Gava region. 

Hasmik believes the skills she gained through the programme extend beyond business. ‘I became self-confident enough to start this venture and gain financial independence,’ she says. ‘My dream now is to grow the bakery. I imagine many women working here, like me, who really need a job. I imagine lots of space and lots of satisfied customers!’

More than 160 women survivors like Hasmik have signed up to participate in the programme and 130 have developed business plans. A further 50 have received funding to support their businesses.  

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