EPF to mainstream gender into programs

Eurasia Partnership Foundation mainstreams gender throughout its strategy.

Gender Mainstreaming involves ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities – policy development, research, advocacy/ dialogue, legislation, resource allocation, and planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects. Hence, we see gender as an inherent part of all our projects and policies rather than as a separate programmatic area.

In order to have a better understanding of the topic, we conducted trainings on gender mainstreaming for our staff. By the way, 69% of our staff are women: Six out of eight program managers and two out of four senior managers are female. 39% of our talk show participants over the last three years (30 shows) have been women (i.e. 84 out of 214 participants) and also 44% of our grantee project leaders are females.

Programmatically, we have also supported some targeted gender oriented projects, as well as research and debate, as a part of wider EPF/CRRC agenda.

The highlights of such projects include:

CRRC awarded a number of fellowships to young researches who specialize in studying gender issues. During past several years Gyulnara Hovhannisyan analyzed gender aspects of Armenian pension system, Gohar Shahnazaryan addressed gender segmentation and positioning in the Armenian society, Anahit Mkrtchyan studied connections between women’s political participation and employment, and Armine Mkhitaryan researched Gender indicators of Armenian local government institutions. List of fellowships and research papers in Armenian are available here.

A film entitled Parallel realities, produced by Ara Shirinyan and Tigran Paskevichyan within the EPF Freedom of Expression project tells stories of “silent daughters- in-law” who are prohibited to talk to their fathers-in-law. This is a story of overlapping realities in Armenia. Rural traditions are contrasted with nudity in modern art in the capital. The story of incompatible lifestyles in the same geographic and time realm demonstrates mutual denial and irreconcilability of the two realities. At the end of the film, a “silent daughter-in-law” says “Now we look at them (liberal people living in the capital) and wonder how they could live their lives that way. And they probably look at us wondering if it’s a movie or a real life”. See the link to the film. The film was shown on Article 27, EPF brand talk show, and generated the liveliest debate in the society.

Parallel Reality - English version from EPF Armenia on Vimeo.

As a part of Armenia-Azerbaijan Unbiased e-Media Coverage project supported by FCO, EPF supported Arm-Az Women Narratives small project. The idea behind the project came from a simple fact that women’s voices are rarely heard in the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. The project team set out to document women’s stories on both sides of the border —in the capitals, Yerevan and Baku, as well as in the regions where the likelihood of isolation and marginalization of women’s voices is even greater.

According to Adrineh Der-Boghossian from Armenia: A project like ours is important because it provides a platform not only for women to tell their stories, but also to share them across communities. The fact that the narratives are translated into Armenian, Azerbaijani and English makes them more accessible, which is why another important component is for the women to hear (and read) each others’ stories. This lets them know that they are not alone in their struggles, that those on the other side of the conflict also have their stories, often quite similar to their own. The path to peace and reconciliation, we believe, begins when we begin to tell and hear each others’ stories.

Within the Social Enterprise project in early 2010, three organizations, headed by women, received funding for establishing enterprises. One of the projects resulted in the establishment of quilt-making studios in the Aghtala and Yeghegnadzor communities by the Armenian Young Women’s Association. The studios give a chance to socially vulnerable women to engage in creative manual work: making quilts and quilted handicrafts (see or buy one) here. Sixteen women from marginalized groups were trained in quilting, knitting and sewing skills.

Another social enterprise was successfully established by Goris Youth Union. Here women from vulnerable groups produce bed-sheets, child-care linen and other manufactured products, which are then sold to hotels and hospitals, as well as in the local stores. The small enterprise has created a permanent job for two women.