Gvantsa Kikaleishvili, 37 years old, Khobi/Torsa

‘’I’m a doctor by profession; I worked at the Chachava Clinic for a year. In 2010, I had to move temporarily to the village and ultimately, I stayed there for a long time.
In 2013, the non-governmental organization ‘’Atinati’’ appeared in our village, which, with the help of the UN project, ‘’Promoting Gender Equality’’, and the Georgian Strategic Research and Development Project, ‘’Empowering women for Change’’, was selecting a target group of rural women. After the interviews, our village was also selected and that’s how I got into the non-governmental sector for the first time. In the same year, we created a women’s initiative group in the village Torsa, and we did a lot of projects within the group. In 2017, we had already realized that we were ready to register the organization and established the Education and Development Center ‘’Toliskuri’’. After that, we had more opportunities to implement different projects, but we have to work hard to stay relevant.
I saw the UN Women training program on social media and shared it with my team member, Ani Bukia. Fortunately, it turned out that both of us were selected from our organization and got involved in the project. Even though I didn’t have much to do with the technology field before, I became interested in social media marketing. During that time, our organization established a small enterprise for dried fruits, where IDP women are employed, and I thought that the knowledge we’d gain would be helpful for the further development of our enterprise. Although I’ve been through a lot of training before, this program was a big challenge for me because it was a completely new field for me. After completing the training, I can’t say that I can program, but the knowledge and experience I’ve gained, especially in social media marketing helps me a lot in my job. In addition, this program has contacted me with very important people, for example, Nana Dikhaminjia, Lili Pulariani, and many others with whom I’m still friends. Nana and Lili share their knowledge about modern technologies and cybersecurity with the volunteers from our organization. Now I see more necessity and I’m also trying to make sure the rural youth don’t miss the technical knowledge and innovations. Even today, there still are stereotypical ideas that technology needs math and that this field is not for girls. We try to raise awareness about it in young people. I myself was a victim of these stereotypes since I always heard in my childhood that women should study humanitarian subjects, but during the training, I saw many young women and I believed that if I really wanted to, I would be able to gain knowledge in this field. I remember Lili Pulariani’s presentation, which greatly inspired me and I believed that nothing’s impossible. More than 120 women participated in the program and today most of us use this knowledge in different directions.
Since our organization is actively working with young people, I and Ani have prioritized sharing our knowledge with them. In addition, we now have completely different perspectives on the development of our organization and we started more projects to implement digital technologies. Our partners also trust us more when they learn that we’ve been through social media marketing and web programming training and we understand the importance of technological innovations in our business.
In our organization’s headquarters in Khobi, we have a day center for children with disabilities. Within the framework of the project funded by the Tbilisi Human Rights House, we completely digitized our day center. We have 20 children there and our beneficiaries, under the supervision of a special teacher and a psychologist, can use their tablets individually for cognitive-educational programs. The knowledge, experience, and contacts gained in the training for the new technologies helped us a lot in the implementation of this particular project.
Under the Covid pandemic, almost every field needs to use technologies. Many people around me have already started selling different things on Facebook, but most of them don’t have basic knowledge of marketing and branding. Therefore, according to my observation, their posts have a low response rate and this also affects their sales.
At this point, Ani and I are managing our organization’s Facebook page. All the activities of the organization are planned online, but we manage to spread information and mobilize people. Sometimes I think that we might be able to involve more people online than we managed to do offline. During the pandemic, the knowledge that this program gave me was even more needed than I thought. So, I have one piece of advice for women – when seeing an opportunity to learn something, don’t refuse. We don’t know what life is preparing for us and when we’re going to need that knowledge.’’
Author: Ida Bakhturidze
Photographer: Irakli Gamsakhurdia / Geda Darchia
Translation: Mariam Kajrishvili
‘’Gvantsa Kikaleishvili was one of the 124 participants in the women’s web development and social media marketing training program in 2019. The training program was part of the UN Women project “A Joint Action for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Georgia” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. The views expressed in the story are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of UN Women, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations.”