In April 2018 URU Connect, United Kingdom, and “SABR” National Centre for Socio-Economic Development, Uzbekistan, embarked on an ambition joint project aimed to strengthen the capacities of social NGOs to enable economic empowerment of women in Uzbekistan, focusing on women and girls from disadvantaged background supporting them into employment, self-employment and enterprise development.
The initiative builds on our previous pioneering joint work in rural areas of Uzbekistan to support vulnerable women and girls through development of the Local Development Centres (LDCs). Independent project research demonstrated “a significant positive impact of the activities on the socio-economic living standards of the target groups” and the need to replicate the services across Uzbekistan has been recognised.
In 2018 SABR has worked in all 14 regions of Uzbekistan building relationships with local NGOs, representatives of hokimiats, local Women’s Committees and regional departments of the Youth Union. The model of the social-economic support for vulnerable women and girls from rural areas of Uzbekistan has been promoted through training delivered in Jizzakh, Andijan, Tashkent and Navoi to 131 representatives of social NGOs from various regions of Uzbekistan. Seven NGOs have been selected to join the new network of social NGOs (from Andijan,Jizzakh,Navoi, Karshi, Termes, Samarkand, Tashkent area) and three associate members (from Tashkent, Khoresm and Namangan regions).
The Round Table took place on 26th July 2018 to promote aims and objectives of the project and was attended by 78 people – Senators, members of the Oliy Majlis, Parliament Commission for Supporting NGOs under Oliy Majlis, President Consultation Committee on the Development of the Civil Society, government officials, international organisations etc. The Parliamentary Committee became one of the co-organisers of the Round Table. The Round Table confirmed that the aims and objectives of the project are in line with the Government of programme for Improving Quality of Life of Rural People in Underdeveloped Regions of the Country “Obod Kishlok” and the President’s Directive “Every Family is an Entrepreneur” to engage unemployed youth and general population in employment and enterprise.
The second Round Table entitled “Lifelong education, development of social micro-enterprises is the key to sustainable livelihoods of vulnerable groups of the population” took place on 29th October 2018 in Andijan and was organised in partnership with the Parliament Commission for the Support of NGOs within Oliy Majlis Republic of Uzbekistan, regional department of the National Association, Local Hokimiat and the Women’s Committee of Andijan Area. The Round Table was attended by the NGOs from 9 regions of the country, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Centre SSPO in the Ministry of Education and their regional departments.
On 29-30 October URU Connect delivered a two day training programme “Supporting Entrepreneurship and Social Business – the British Experience” in Andijan city to representatives of the social NGOs and stakeholders. The purpose of training was to familiarise the social NGOs with strategic approaches to development of social business and entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom; volunteer sector management; approaches to providing services and business support for vulnerable groups of population; fundraising and resource search, as well as specialist support for women in developing their enterprises.
In 2018 SABR carried out surveys among the project target groups in 5 regions and the results of the research were used to develop a comprehensive training programme to be delivered at the LDCs.
On 9-12 October a master class for NGOs from Andijan, Djizak, Kashkadaria, Surkhandaria, Navoi and Samarkand was delivered on 6 different vocational training modules and attended by 25 NGO representatives from 6 regions.
In July 2018 a pilot Local Development Centre was open at the new premises of SABR in Samarkand. In October 2018 the second Local Development Centre has been open at the Andijan premises of the Association «Тадбиркор аёл» of Uzbekistan. The centres were equipped with computers, printers, sewing machines, baking ovens and other equipment and furniture.
Since the opening of the two LDCs and to 31stDecember 326 women and girls from the vulnerable low income background were trained. (267 at Samarkand LDC and 59 at the LDC at Andijan). Through the vocational training delivered at the LDCs women and girls gain skills and confidence to enter the employment or self-employment, also receiving socio economic support services to develop their own enterprises including business training, micro-financing and counselling.
In November – December 2018 the International “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” campaign has been carried out as part of the project with various activities taken place across the Uzbekistan.
The project was promoted internationally. On Wednesday 25 April, 2018, Kath Rees MBE, presented at the event “Partnership Working with Women’s Organisations in Uzbekistan” organised by the British –Uzbek Society at the Embassy of Uzbekistan, London. Kath spoke about the collaborative projects pioneered between British and Uzbek organisations involved in women’s affairs.