Stories

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More than 600 women living in rural areas throughout Serbia are now better equipped to participate in the labour market thanks to a collaboration between UN Women, the European Union and civil society organizations to deliver skills and entrepreneurship training. Closing the employment gap between women and men in Serbia is crucial for achieving equality and training efforts like these are moving this important agenda forward.
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International Women’s Day in 2022 celebrates the dedicated women activists who are stepping up to save the planet. UN Women presents their stories of climate courage and environmental action through a collaboration with illustrators across the Europe and Central Asia region. Read and be inspired...
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Two years ago, to overcome unemployment, a difficult economic situation, and few income opportunities, five women's associations from rural parts of northern Serbia founded the Women's Divan network. They recently launched a common brand called Pletenia to market their products. Their work is supported by a UN Women programme aimed at promoting gender equality in Serbia, with funding from the European Union.
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Kyrgyzstan is one of the most remittance-dependent countries in the world, with a recent UN report revealing that 800,000 to 1 million of the country’s 6.6 million citizens work abroad on a regular basis. Around half are women (with estimates ranging from 40–53 per cent). To address outflow migration challenges at the community level, from 2019–2021, UN Women, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) jointly implemented a project funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund. It sought to change harmful gender stereotypes, especially among women migrants and their families, and support the participation of women and girls in inclusive community development. By helping women explore their strengths and realize their business ideas, the project created livelihood options in areas with high migration outflows. Three beneficiaries shared their stories with UN Women on how the project changed their lives for the better.
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Karolina Stamenković has been the head of the non-governmental organization “Women's Ethno Centre - Lužnice Handicrafts” since its foundation in 2008, in Babusnica, one of the poorest municipalities in Serbia. Today, the organization has over 80 members who work to empower and motivate women to improve their economic status and engage actively in their communities. She spoke to UN Women about the challenges rural women are facing and the results of a project to support unemployed women’s economic activation through their inclusion in organic production in the Pirot District.
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Kadem Doğan is a board member of the Freedom and Equality for Women Association based in Adana, a city in southern Turkey. Born in a village in south-eastern Turkey, Kadem started to question the inequalities in society at a young age when she realized the heavy care and domestic work burden carried by the women in her village. Doğan secured a small grant for her Association through the “Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality” project, which is implemented by UN Women with financial support from the European Union. This support helps her strengthen the capacity of her Association in the fight against gender inequalities.
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The public association the Rural Women's Business Network recently signed a Partner Agreement with the UN Women Project, Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment through Decentralization Reform of Ukraine. This initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Under the new Partner Agreement , the Association will facilitate mobilization of women from 13 communities to participate in local governance across four regions: Volyn, Chernivtsi, Kherson and Sumy.
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In the Republic of Moldova, women from rural areas are one of the most affected groups in terms of volatile economic conditions. Nevertheless, women are resilient and ambitious in promoting gender equality and fighting for the creation of a prosperous economic environment for all citizens of the country.
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On 26 May 2021, the UN Women country office in Kyrgyzstan held a final conference presenting the result of the project entitled: Responding to the urgent needs of women and girls in a vulnerable situation aggravated by COVID-19 in Kyrgyzstan. This UN Women and Government of Japan project has supported rural women in Naryn, Osh and Jalal-Abad regions to revive their economic activities.
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In the remote villages of Kyrgyzstan, women without an education often find it difficult to gain work. In most cases they have to stay at home or leave to work in other countries, even though there are business opportunities in their local areas. Meet two women who smashed the prevailing stereotypes and became independent entrepreneurs, with the help of the rural women's economic empowerment (RWEE) project.
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On International Day of Rural Women, UN Women Moldova talked to three women mayors of rural Moldova, who broke the gender stereotypes pertaining to women’s leadership, mobilized their communities for prevention and protection from COVID-19 and brought significant changes to the lives of their fellow citizens.
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This year on International Day of Rural Women (15 October), the spotlight is on the urgent need for Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19, for “building back better” by strengthening rural women’s sustainable livelihoods and wellbeing.
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Women in rural areas contribute significantly to the development of agriculture. This is confirmed by the story of Drena Đukić, Senior Expert Associate for Cooperatives and Consulting at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Republika Srpska. Through professional as well as private engagement, Drena Đukić actively contributes to strengthening the position of women in rural areas, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Before the COVID-19 pandemic, rural women in North Macedonia already worked more hours every day than men, much of this time unpaid. Now, the health crisis has increased their workload and they are also struggling to access health services and other support.
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Snezana Zivadinovic heads the Association for the Development of Creativity in Aleksinac, Central Serbia, and is a vocal advocate for an equal distribution of care and domestic work, especially in rural areas. The coronavirus has increased the demand for care work in many families in rural areas of Serbia where the workload falls heavily on women and girls. Zivadinovic speaks to UN Women about the situation and how her NGO provides solutions under the UK-UN Women programme ‘Redistribution of unpaid care work’.
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Agritourism is one of the most important sources of Georgia’s regional development as well as job creation, women’s economic empowerment and financial revenue generation for mountainous districts.
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In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Jelena Ruzic and 122 women from Serbia involved in a UN Women-run, EU-funded project are asking decision makers to consider the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on individual women agricultural producers, and protect them.
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Lela Setouri and Mzia Jabishvili met in November 2019 during their vocational training courses in the culinary arts. Both were from Akhmeta (in eastern Georgia’s Kakheti region), which helped bring them closer together.
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24-year-old Kursanali kyzy Begimai is the leader of a self-help group in a village on the disputed Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border. Running a profitable agro-business and conflict-resolution initiatives, her group is now an example to other community members in the village.
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The six-day “How to Start a Business” course taught women in Georgia how to generate start-up ideas and validate them, as well as how to build the right team and create a product. They also developed strategic and innovative thinking, and learned about planning and product distribution, financial documentation, business modeling and investment proposals.