From Syunik Women Resource Centers Network to WINNET Armenia
To address the limited participation of women in public and economic life of Armenia, in 2007 the OSCE Office in Yerevan started a project with a goal to support sustainable economic development and democracy in Armenia. The project focused on Syunik region, a southern region largely isolated from the capital Yerevan, where women made up a majority of the population. However, they did not have a voice in local politics and they were disadvantaged compared to men in terms of employment opportunities.
In 2008 OSCE office in Yerevan offered guidance and technical support to a group of highly motivated local women active in their communities and sharing a visionary understanding of local development needs and women’s role in this effort, to establish three resource centers.
These women groups who had previously volunteered in various community initiatives targeting women’s participation became the core of the resource centers in three Syunik communities: Goris, Kapan, and Meghri. They pioneered in creation of a support circle for women in the region, based on the Swedish model of women’s resource centers, these centers were to serve as a meeting place for women to support them in their activities.
Subsequently, in 2008-2009, with the support of the OSCE office in Yerevan three resource centers were founded: Meghri Women’s Resource Center (NGO), Kapan Women’s Resource Center (NGO) and Goris Women’s Development Resource Center (Foundation). These centers were reliable institutions that show great efforts to support establishing an increase in economy and democracy within the region, paying attention to women’s economic progress and collaboration. The Centers served as meeting place for local women and provide women with resources to start their own businesses. The number of beneficiaries, increasing daily along with their capacities, allowed the community to be involved in solving many problems concerning women. Different measures, including debates, were directed to increase public awareness of key social, economic and political issues. Appreciating the power and capacities of a network, these resource centers united into Syunik Women’s Resource Centers Network, which joined WINNET Europe as the first member from a non-EU country. Later in the year it was renamed ‘WINNET Armenia — Network of Women Resource Centers’.
In the next two years WINNET Armenia expanded the network. In 2015 with the support of European Endowment for Democracy (EED) and OSCE office in Yerevan it established new Women’s Resource Centers in three other communities two of which are in different regions: Sisian Women’s Resource Center Foundation, Ijevan Women’s Development Resource Center Foundation and Yeghegnadzor Women Resource Center Foundation and one Women Initiative Group in Vanadzor.
In 2018 WINNET Armenia network has been expanded within the framework of Constructive Dialogue Initiative as a result of «Budget for All» project funded by EU. Now it has 11 members and operates in 5 regions of Armenia: Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Tavush, Lori and Aragatsotn.
The following presents the development timeline of Winnet Armenia: