Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan/ Dilara Umudova.

Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan/ Dilara Umudova.

Baku/17.10.19/Turan: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and Switzerland launch an official opening ceremony of a new Women"s Resource Centre in Qusar, 180 km north of Baku, to support women empowerment through entrepreneurship, self-employment and community development. The centre in Qusar is one of three regional centres created for women in rural areas within the project "Women"s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus funded by Switzerland through its Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The other two centres are based in the Khazar region of Baku and in Sabirabad. This regional initiative worth USD 637,000 is part of a three-year UN Joint Project between UN Women and UNDP, which will continue until 2021. In Azerbaijan, the project is carried out by UNDP in partnership with the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs.

The overall objective of the project is to ensure that women, particularly those coming from less fortunate economic and social backgrounds, are provided with all the necessary support they need to become economically and socially active members of their societies. Joint efforts are specifically aimed at strengthening rural women"s entrepreneurial skills and advancing their competitiveness in the job market through capacity development and business networking. In all three regions where flagship Women Resource Centres operate, an emphasis is put also on sensitising the private sector on the importance of integrating gender-sensitive aspects in business strategies of each company, where needs, concerns and interests of women are taken into account.

The UNDP, UN Women and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation work closely with the Government of Azerbaijan and the country"s business community to promote the UN Global Compact"s Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs). Recognising the critical role of innovation and smart technologies in advancing women"s rights and opportunities, the project in Qusar, Khazar and Sabirabad also brings forward solutions that have the potential to revamp women"s access to labour markets via digital technologies. Through a partnership agreement with PwC, a new web platform will be established to offer e-trading and e-marketing opportunities to women who will be able to advertise, promote and sell goods and services their business startups produce. In addition to helping women entrepreneurs maximise their profits, PwC will also work directly with the Women"s Resource Centres to substantially improve their institutional capacity building and enhance organizational management systems and operations in these centres. With yet another private sector partner in this project, Sobsan, the leading manufacturer of paints and industrial coatings, UNDP, UN Women, and partners are offering women in Qusar, Khazar and Sabirabad professional master classes in painting and repair services. A new Women"s Union will be launched soon to gather a network of professional women painting and refurbishment service providers to break gender stereotypes and give access to women to chart new career paths in industries that have been predominantly occupied by men in the past.

Up to date, close to 530 women have joined the network of regional Women"s Resource Centres in Qusar, Khazar and Sabirabad. The Women"s Resource Centres in Qusar, Khazar and Sabirabad operate through tremendous support from Azerbaijan"s State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs and local executive authorities of these regions. -71D-

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