Kristine Kutateladze, 30 years old, Tskaltubo, Imereti
”I’ve been interested in technology since childhood. When I was in the 8th grade, I enrolled in a free Microsoft office program course of one of the NGOs together with two of my friends. Even though my friends left the course in the first month and I was left alone, I still made it to the end of the course. I connected my future profession to it and enrolled in a faculty where computer technologies and foreign languages were taught at the same time. However, after the first semester, according to the Minister’s order, the computer teaching part was removed and we were only left with an opportunity to become English language philologists. I was not happy with that and therefore, never worked in that profession. Initially, I worked mainly on non-governmental projects, and in addition, I joined the Tskaltubo Art Festival as a member of the organizing group. This festival, which is organized by ‘’Tskaltubo IDP Women’’, was held for the eighth time this year.
After graduating, I went through training in creating a blog conducted by Dodi Kharkheli. I learned then for the first time what a blog was all about. The training turned out to be very useful and interesting and when I got home, I spent two nights creating my personal blog. It was a huge achievement for me, I was so happy – I was actively writing my personal views and sketches on this blog. Then there was the project for ‘’Open Maps Caucasus’’, where we were drawing maps of western Georgia using GPS technology. Back then it was a new technology and we traveled all over Imereti with GPS. We entered this data into the computer with a special tool and, in short, I felt very comfortable with new technologies. However, there wasn’t any opportunity to get additional knowledge in Tskaltubo and it was difficult for me to go to Kutaisi because there is no transport coming back in the evening. Then I got married and had to stay at home during my pregnancy, which turned out to be very difficult for me.
One day, by accident, I found a statement from UN Women about a social media marketing and web programming course for women. I decided to try it but didn’t have high hopes that I would be selected from so many people. I had almost forgotten about this when I received a letter announcing that I had passed the second stage and now I had to pass the test. At this point, I already had hopes that I might have made it to the end and completed the test very motivated. I received another message that I was selected and invited to the opening in Batumi. It made me very happy. I already had two children and I remember thinking, how I could say that I’m going to Batumi for three days for this great occasion?! In the beginning, of course, there was skepticism – ‘’Why do you go to such a training?’’, ‘’Why do you waste your time?!’’, ‘’Will it be useful at all?!’’, etc. I have always proved to such people that I really made use of every training I ever went to.
I arrived in Batumi very motivated and full of enthusiasm. I was very happy and completed the course so successfully, that in the end, I was among the 40 best women who were selected for an internship. I remember very well what we were told at the opening of this course – ‘’By joining this program, you’ll be able to change your professions.’’ I immediately thought that I would do it, and now, I can say that my dream came true. My second profession became programming, which is all I ever wanted. I made the first website for a relative, and later, got a paid order too. I was unconditionally happy. When my kids get older, I plan to learn to write code and write websites from beginning to end.
In addition to private orders, these new skills have also helped me to find a job. The first one who believed in me and hired me was the director of the St. Gabriel Bishop Tskaltubo Theological Gymnasium. I teach information and communication technologies at the gymnasium, and I’m also an art teacher. The director of the fourth school was also interested in my skills – he said, “I heard that you feel in technology like a fish in water and I need someone like you”. That’s how I became an information manager in a public school. At school, I always try not to limit myself only to books – by telling stories about successful women, I teach children that girls can also succeed in information technology. Nowadays, unfortunately, many families convince girls that they can’t do it and that’s why women are less interested in technologies.
All of this, of course, affected my income, but on the other hand, I’m always happy when helping those in need. For example, I gladly help teachers and they take private lessons with me, I help them improve their technical skills because now they desperately need it. Since I share my knowledge with other women, my self-esteem has increased. Because I know a foreign language, I work in the art field, I have a small handmade toy business and web programming has already become my profession, I didn’t stop during the pandemic. New knowledge has given me important skills and I know that no matter what, I won’t be lost anymore.
My motivation in technology and particularly in the UN women program, was Lily Pulariani, with whom we also have a volunteer Facebook page – “Women Sharing Digital Knowledge.” During this pandemic, we have big plans – we want to help women use online technologies. For me, as an entrepreneur, my knowledge has helped me a lot in online sales and in doing online marketing. Therefore, I really want to help many entrepreneurial women we have in Tskaltubo and teach them everything I know about social media marketing.’’
Author: Ida Bakhturidze
Photographer: Davit Shvelidze / Geda Darchia
Translation: Mariam Kajrishvili
‘’Kristine Kutateladze 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.”