“Women for Development” NGO was established in 1997, in Gyumri. Main work areas of the organization are rural community development, women and youth empowerment, promotion of women’s entrepreneurship and conflict management education both in formal and non-formal ways.
The organization was established by women. This means that the founders were united around their deep understanding of the issues affecting women. It is not a secret that at all times women are responsible for taking care of their own as well as their family members’ health. Taking this into consideration, the organization established Healthy Family centers in 70 rural communities of Shirak region. These centers were provided with essential medicines and equipment. Parallel to establishment of these centers, more than 100 nurses were trained and more than 4000 women and youth received basic knowledge on STDs and HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning, reproductive health and healthy lifestyle.
Implementation of health care project was a huge experience for the organization. We got to know our rural communities closely, people started to trust us and share the issues affecting their daily lives. We saw the huge potential existing in the communities and realized how much can be done by the local population for development of their own communities, if only they had corresponding knowledge and skills. This has become the basis for developing our strategy and new approaches for future work.
Starting from 2008, “Women for Development” NGO began its coordinated projects in 15 rural communities of Shirak region, based on “Not for the community, but together with the community” slogan.
Community centers were established in beneficiary villages, community active groups were formed, more than 600 residents, including women and youth, participated in various capacity building trainings, as well as in creation of alternative community development strategic plans. Practical collaboration with local and regional government, as well as local and international donor organizations was established. In 2008-2021, with the financial support from “Women for Development” NGO, 84 social projects targeting cultural, sports and community infrastructure development were implemented and 4 community NGOs were established, including “”Sarapat” Local Action Group” NGO. The latter was one of the main results of WFD NGO’s implementation of European LEADER approach to rural community development in 8 villages of Shirak region, carried out in 2020.
During implementation of community development projects, “Women for Development” NGO pays special attention to capacity development of rural youth, promotion of entrepreneurship, especially women’s entrepreneurship, teaching conflict management skills to community members, particularly schoolchildren, as well as collaborating with local government. In 2017-2021, 8 youth active groups were established in the beneficiary communities of Shirak region, each having a renovated, furnished and equipped center for their use. WFD NGO funded 28 small business projects, out of which 23 are women-led; 8 Forum Theater clubs are actively functioning, and approximately 22% contribution of the 84 social project budgets implemented in 12 communities was made by local residents and local government. This comes to prove the coordinated trilateral community-resident-NGO collaboration and mutual trust.
Parallel to health care and community development projects, “Women for Development” NGO has done extensive work in integrating conflict management education into curriculum of schools. This project was implemented in 2002-2017, in collaboration with the National Institute of Education, operating under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education. The project reached out to more than 4000 teachers from 850 schools in 11 regions of Armenia, as well as about 70 000 schoolchildren. Conflict management education model developed by WFD NGO received high praise from various international institutions.
The first conference was organized back in 2007, with attendance from representatives of the Ministry of Education, Georgian and Armenian partner organizations, principals of our beneficiary schools, teachers and other guests. The second conference was organized in 2017 was more comprehensive impressive in terms of the guest speakers and participants. This major event hosted 130 participants from 25 countries, among them keynote speakers from Austria, USA, UK and Armenia. Apart from the Psychology department of Shirak State University attended the Conference. This became a unique chance for them to develop their skills and abilities in peace education, conflict management and study different approaches available in various countries. This was another milestone in the history of our organization.
Presently, conflict management education is implemented informally through Forum Theater clubs established in the communities.