A more inclusive job market for women in the South Caucasus

Project completed
A women reads information
Women can find out about their employment rights ©SDC

In the three countries of the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), many women face job market discrimination. In the absence of policy to create equal opportunities and jobs for women in the formal economy, women work unprotected in the informal sector. The Women’s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus project seeks to promote women's economic empowerment to facilitate their equal access to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Women’s equality organisations and institutions
01.11.2017 - 31.07.2021
CHF  3’763’327

Many women in the South Caucasus are excluded from the economic system in their countries. They work in the home or in the informal economy and thus do not benefit from the protections and advantages of formal employment. Societies in the region remain highly patriarchal, and sexist stereotypes persist. Some laws are discriminatory, encouraging large pay gaps between men and women.

Women in agriculture

In the three countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), 35% of women are excluded from the job market, especially in rural areas. Many women do work in agriculture, but mainly in informal family arrangements, which means they do not have access to an income, which would lead to their empowerment. 

Laws favourable to women’s empowerment

The first phase of the project focuses on 1,660 women especially disadvantaged and vulnerable in 23 small towns. The main goal is to empower women by informing them of their rights, by enabling them to develop a network and by improving their entrepreneurial skills. Empowering women will lead to their inclusion in the formal economy through paid jobs or self-employment. Furthermore, in Armenia and Georgia there is a favourable outlook for development within institutions and in the normative framework. The project therefore advocates for the establishment of legislation to increase gender equality and for women’s participation in establishing the required legislation. It also encourages the two states to ratify the international conventions established by the International Labour Office, which would indirectly benefit 2.4 million women. Moreover, the project is in synergy with other SDC projects on rural development and decentralisation in Armenia and Georgia. For example, a collaboration with the Women’s Rooms (hubs created by women in rural areas) in these two countries will help women to build their networks and to share advice and information.

Expected results

It is expected that particularly disadvantaged and vulnerable women will use their new skills and the opportunities created by the economic system to gain access to the employment market. Private-sector companies will be encouraged to apply international standards to improve women's access to paid employment. Armenia and Georgia will also establish legislative frameworks to ensure women’s economic empowerment. Decision-makers in governments and public institutions will subsequently receive training to develop gender-equality strategies guaranteeing women’s labour market inclusion and to monitor implementation to ensure the measures’ sustainability.

The project is run by UN Women and the UNDP in partnership with the countries’ national gender equality agencies.