Workshop project aims for economic empowerment of Pankisi valley women

The four-month project is a rare opportunity for Pankisi locals to learn new trade and entrepreneurial skills to go along with it. Photo: Nino Alavidze., 02 Nov 2021 - 15:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

A new project involving a Georgian immigrant community in Germany and a foundation for development of Georgia's eastern Kakheti province is offering women of the remote Pankisi Valley communities economic opportunity through creative work.

Addressing a lack of employment opportunities that has been familiar to the area for decades, the project Strengthening Economic Conditions of Women in Pankisi Valley is now bringing the beneficiaries together in workshops on producing and decorating ceramics, as well as on promoting and selling their products.

Launched earlier in October, the workshops are based in the Duisi village and teach women of the valley's communities the production of ceramic pottery and paints for their decoration, addition of decorative elements to the produced items, as well as branding, digital marketing and sales.

Led by professional mentors in the workshops, the beneficiaries of the initiative will also have their works published online in the concluding phase of the project. Photo: Nino Alavidze.

Those joining the courses are mentored by Nona Otarashvili-Becher, a German-based ceramicist who has led a centre for teaching the trade in Freiburg over the past two decades, and has featured in solo and group displays of ceramic items.

The marketing and sales part of the workshops are led by Caucasus School of Business associate professor Nina Andriadze - academic manager of bachelor and master's programmes of the Faculty of Management at the school, teacher on entrepreneurship and innovation, and founder of startups.

For the project, the Hannover-based Georgian Migrants community organisation is joined by the Kakheti Regional Development Foundation, with the initiative supported by the German Society for International Cooperation, as part of its Migration & Diaspora programme.

A close-up of a decorative detail tile produced by the women participants of the workshop. Photo: Nino Alavidze.

Spanning between September 2021-February 2022, the project will also involve a handover of equipment for ceramics production to a local workshop, a training of local art teachers in ceramic crafts, and a publication of an online catalogue featuring portfolios and works by participants.

The workshop project is focused on communities of the valley in Georgia's north-east, which has often found itself in the midst of political tensions and social challenges as a result of its remote location and lack of opportunities for locals.

Educational, political and cultural projects for locals have been few and far between, with state and civil society moves including workshops for teaching photography to youth of the valley, and offering courses of Chechen language to communities.