18 May 2015, 12:26
3830 |

Sustainable Opportunities Emerge for Women Farmers in Armenia

Life for those occupying Armenia’s villages is not easy. Largely dependent on agriculture for income, the job instability, unemployment, and large-scale poverty particular to this complex industry in Armenia causes many to abandon these rural areas in search of more stable work in cities nearby, like Yerevan, or in other countries, often Moscow. Because oftentimes, the breadwinners leaving these villages are men, women and the elderly are left behind to take care of their families' immediate needs.

Women one of the remaining hopes for the future development of these rural communities. However, in additionto all the obstacles they already face, women bear the additional burden of being devalued members of society. They are hard-pressed to provide their families with support due not only to the instability of the job market, but also to their predetermined inability to access it. It is clear that a radical change needs to take place in order to secure a sustainable future for these villages.

That’s why, in 2010, Oxfam stepped in and led an initiative to develop rural livelihoods in Tavush, a region of Armenia bordering Azerbaijan that is host to over 57 rural communities. The overall goal was to support small-scale farmers, with a strong emphasis on women, to secure sustainable livelihoods in their communities through increasing access to economic opportunities. The program was an immediate success.

With the establishment of cooperatives in 15 villages, and greenhouses in 11 of them, Oxfam trained villagers with the skills they would need to develop their community into a sustainable economic unit. Today, 3 of cooperatives are made up of only women, while in the co-ed ones (30-50% made up of women), women are teaming up side by side with their male counterparts, doing equal work for equal compensation. The communities with greenhouses are receiving stable, salaried incomes and providing for their families and communities.

The village of Hovk, host to both an Oxfam greenhouse and a female-driven cooperative to staff it, is one such success story. Women like the ones from Hovk are speaking up about experiences being active members of society--socially, politically, and economically--and they want to let women in other villages of Armenia know that with hard work, anything really is possible.

 

Hovk’s message is loud and clear: Women can provide more for themselves and their community. They just need the tools and the opportunity to be able to do so. That is why ONEArmenia (1A), a non-profit crowdfunding platform based out of New York and Yerevan, is helping Oxfam build greenhouses for 4 cooperatives in Tavush villages (. These greenhouses will be increased in size and impact from previous ones by over 50%.

To join 1A in helping women farmers make their communities sustainable, visit their campaign page or become a fundraiser today.

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