Workshops for Tajik women on doing business are set to begin, all thanks to a project operated by the Polish Center for International Aid (PCIA) and co-financed by the MFA.
Khatlon province in the south of Tajikistan is the country's poorest region: the average wage here is half the national average. The harsh, semi-arid climate and the civil war have led to high unemployment in the province. Over 60% of men have emigrated in search of work, mainly to Russia and Kazakhstan, leaving behind their wives and children. Women are forced to sustain the livelihoods of entire households on income from low-paid seasonal jobs. As the husbands remain in emigration, they set up new families, leaving their wives and children without the necessary means of living.
In order to help women in Khatlon province, in May 2012 the Polish Center for International Aid initiated a project entitled "Developing women's cooperatives in the Shahrtuz region in southern Tajikistan". The goal of the project is to create cooperatives bringing together a total of 135 women aged between 17 and 55 whose husbands are long-time workers abroad; single mothers; as well as homeless, abandoned, or divorced women.
The first stage consists of psychological workshops aimed at building bonds between the women. Workshops combined with practical courses teach the women how to produce and process fruit, vegetables, and dairy products; they will also have a chance to share cooking recipes and knowledge of efficient household management. Workshops covering such areas as accounting, finances, and legal aspects of doing business will be held with a view to enabling the women to sell their goods. After these training sessions, they will decide which field to engage in. They will then draw up business plans with the help of professional coaches. The workshops will end with the cooperatives' registration and the initiation of business activity. The women will hold two meetings per week in order to discuss and resolve any possible problems on an ongoing basis.
The project will end in November 2012 with a round table meeting attended by leaders of the newly-created cooperative, representatives of the jamoat (the lowest administrative tier in Tajikistan) and representatives of organizations working in the region. The meeting will present the output of the women engaged in the project and be aimed at getting the organizations interested in the project and encouraging them to engage in future cooperation.
Project no. 87/2012 "Developing women's cooperatives in the Shahrtuz region in southern Tajikistan".
The project's budget totals PLN 139,200 - including PLN 120,000 from MFA donations.
Photos: Magdalena Gromek/PCIA