Education. Inspiration. Empowerment. - Let's do our best for women and our societies.
I am Lilit Asatryan from the Republic of Armenia. I am a founder and the president of Armenian Young Women’s Association (AYWA).
AYWA (www.aywa.am) was established in 2004 by a group of young women. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organization comprised of young people united in their determination to improve the status of women in Armenia, regardless of educational/cultural background, ethnic origin or religious outlook. AYWA’s mission is to lead social change and to achieve equality of opportunity and reward for all Armenian women, is an integral element in transforming into a just and productive society for all.
AYWA envisions a sound community without marginalised people, which is gender just, culturally plural, socially and economically equitable and politically participatory, peaceful, democratic, secular, and ecologically sane.
Based on human values of compassion, caring, nurturing and sharing, where women, men and children enjoy the basic rights to live in dignity and security and attain fuller growth and development with autonomy, where the communities and people are the master of their productive resources, living environment, and where social justice, equality, freedom, truth and love reign forever.
The overall goal of organization is to strengthen the role of young women in all aspects of Armenian society.
Involvement of young women in public life through leadership development, democracy education, and social inclusion are the daily agenda for AYWA.
During the past years AYWA has implemented a lot of social projects in Armenia at the regional and national levels.
These projects aim at development of personal skills to young women in the regions who then use these skills to be socialized and earn for their own.
One of the bright examples of the implemented projects is the “To mend life with needle and thread” project supported by the CIDA and CESO is the Quilting project.
Three quilting studios were opened within the frames of the project: in Yerevan – Capital, in Northern and Southern regions of the Republic of Armenia.
This is an art, a type of sewing which has a very unique method. Quilting is very much common in US, Canada and some European countries. Armenians also made quilts in past. If you are a quilter you should know you have to use smaller and various kinds of pattern pieces in your quilt. How much your handcraft is colorful, how much it is extraordinary, it means you have managed to create a masterpiece.
The quilting products are being made include home accessories: place mats, table runner, bread basket liner, cushions, wall hangings; ornaments, stuffed animals, tote bags and purses, passport folder and cell phone holder.
The project beneficiaries are young women aged between 19-35 years old. The overwhelming majority of the project beneficiaries before project launch saw their role in the community life as housewives and mothers only. They lost their jobs due to financial crisis and survived awaiting their husband’s money transfers from abroad Armenia where they are working from season to season. Now these women are working independently. They become “Quilting Bees” while working together on a same big product. They work as bees. They all are full of motivation, enthusiasm and new ideas. And they are proud of the work they do.
What were these young women doing before they would be involved in this project?
They were unemployed. There was no opportunity for them to work because of lack of workplaces (especially in the region); also they didn’t have enough qualification. Beside, the global economic crisis has created some new problems for people. Now the Quilting project helps these young women not only to work, to realize their wonderful ideas but also helps them to be socialized and take part in public life, be a real part of the society, participate in decision making process realizing their rights and responsibilities in the society.
Not only quilting skills but also civic education is provided to these women as at the training course, as well as within the frames of their main-quilting activity.
The Quilting project, by Armenian Young Women’s Association, in the Republic of Armenia, really has its positive result on making young women socially inclusive.
Lilit ASATRYAN – President of Armenian Young Women’s Association