By Milena Mkrtchyan
Photos by Milena Mkrtchyan
Young women working and enhancing skills at social enterprise in Dilijan
A group of local young women are sharing experiences in sewing at ARMENECOOP social enterprise, creating handmade pencil cases and bags with images of Dilijan. The program is not only aimed at reducing women’s unemployment, but also at promoting the growth of tourism.
Young women were viewed as the first target group for the implementation of programs aimed at reducing the level of unemployment and employment and educational programs. In 2016, the Center for Youth Cooperation in Dilijan NGO launched a program targeted at 25-34-year-old unemployed women and ladies and wives of socially disadvantaged families. This group was not selected by chance since, according to the data of the National Statistical Service, women make up 72.8% of the group of 25-34-year-old unemployed persons. The selected women work at an office of the ARMENECOOP social enterprise in Dilijan.
Local Programs Director of the Center for Youth Cooperation in Dilijan NGO and Head of ARMENECOOP social enterprise Aida Atabekyan said they first hosted a series of courses and founded a clothing production. The RA Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs also provided some support to hold the courses.
“This was initially a small social program, not a business plan. Later, it became a social enterprise. All the young women and ladies engaged in this program are enhancing their skills in sewing, becoming self-confident and gaining the opportunity for personal growth,” Aida Atabekyan said. She also mentioned that there were almost no local souvenirs in Dilijan and that this was the reason why they began to sew products for tourists, laying the foundation for the “Made in Dilijan” trademark.
Born in Tsovagyugh village, Astghik Amirkhanyan moved to Dilijan after getting married and has been working at the sewing unit for a year. Her co-workers are primarily married with small children, but as Astghik mentioned, they are able to work and take care of their families’ needs at the same time.
“We have already gained skills. We sew and make bags and pencil cases. My expectations have been met. If necessary, I continue my job at home. We also use the items that we make. This program became very significant in my life. I am enhancing my skills and establishing contacts,” Astghik Amirkhanyan said.
Alongside the “My Armenia” Program, a plan for a tour of the sewing unit was developed. The employees present visitors to the potential of sewing machines and help test different types of seams, etc.