Animating village life in Georgia
Women activists improve community life in rural Georgia
The village of Napareuli, beautifully situated at the foot of the Greater Caucasus range, is famous for winemaking. Grapes from local vineyards are traditionally transformed into some of the most distinguished Georgian beverages. Yet the community has another, less-known source of pride: Napareuli is home to a professional animation studio that was established as a result of local women’s initiative.
Nino Kadagishvili, 30, is the heart and mind behind the project. She leads the local women’s initiative group, one of 26 such community organisations supported by UNDP and Sweden across the Kakheti and Samegrelo regions of Georgia.
“We wanted to create new learning and development opportunities for local youth, to offer the kids new ideas for their future profession. To start an animation studio in our small village seemed like a crazy idea at first, but it turned out to be just what young people were missing — an alternative way to express themselves, expand horizons and explore their creative abilities while also open a pathway to employment.”
Currently, ten young people are learning the basics of animation under the supervision of two professionals who travel from the capital each weekend to teach drawing, screenplay writing, computer animation and stop-motion techniques. The young team has already produced one animated movie, The Coin, which had its premiere to much acclaim at a national festival.
Equipment for the studio was purchased with UNDP assistance through a small grants scheme for women’s organisations that promote rural development, while the teachers’ fees are covered by the local municipality. Since 2016, 56 projects of this sort have been implemented in Kakheti and Samegrelo regions, with the total financial support from UNDP amounting to USD 100,000. In Napareuli, grant funding was also used to revitalize public spaces — a park where local youth gather and a kids’ playground.
“Our ideas focus on education, environment and social issues. Women have a special, more sensitive and profound way of seeing things which comes from our unique experiences. This perspective should be considered in all aspects of public life, from the local municipality to the parliament.”
Kadagishvili believes that only by including women in the decision-making process can Georgia make progress and overcome development challenges. These are particularly acute for rural areas, where the poverty rate stands at 23.7 percent, compared with 16.4 percent in urban areas of the country. Nearly 20 percent of the rural population has not completed high school.
Representation of women in local governance in Georgia is persistently low, hovering just above 13 percent as a result of last municipal elections in 2017. However, women have more of a say in civic activities, and this can provide a useful platform to influence local policies. Together with other women, Kadagishvili advocates with the local authorities to acknowledge their perspective, hear their voice and realize their ideas. The animation studio, she says, is just the first step to an animated community.
Georgia ranks 74 out of 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index. Women’s potential in the Georgian economy remains largely untapped, especially in rural areas. 44 percent of women are economically inactive and outside the labour force; among those employed women earn on average 36 percent less than men. Women also continue to be underrepresented in public life –s only 13 percent of local councillors are women, and the share of women in parliament remains as low as 14 percent.
With financial assistance from the Government of Sweden through the UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality, UNDP in Georgia supports women’s entrepreneurship and engagement in public life and works actively to change public perceptions of gender roles in politics and business.
Learn more about UNDP’s work for achieving gender equality in Georgia.
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