Soon after 35-year-old Anahit* learned she was pregnant, she began receiving threats from her partner and his family. The relentless intimidation and fear made her life unbearable, so she sought protection in a shelter run by one of the Near East Foundation’s local partners in Armenia. Once she felt safe and secure, Anahit began attending sessions on domestic violence to help her process the trauma she had endured. And, as her due date approached, she received parenting guidance, as well as financial and health assistance to prepare her for her new role as a first time mother.
By the time her daughter was born, Anahit had found work as a manicurist. But now that she had a new baby to provide for, she wanted something more, and joined NEF’s Women’s Economic Empowerment and Advocacy (WEEA) project. Anahit’s background in cosmetology gave her a marketable skill, and through NEF’s training sessions, she learned such vital business skills as strategic planning and budgeting. With this new knowledge, she acquired a small grant from NEF to start her own laser hair removal business from home—a godsend for a new mother with a baby to care for. “I never knew I was capable of being so goal-oriented,” she says. “I’m back on my feet, and I’m not dependent on anyone—I can take care of my baby and myself.” Anahit is the only person providing a laser hair removal service in the region where she lives.
NEF’s WEEA project aims to assist at least 50 Armenian domestic violence survivors by equipping them with the skills, resources, and support networks they need to reach economic independence through steady employment or operating their own microenterprises. To date, NEF has worked with 36 women who, like Anahit, have achieved economic independence and freedom from fear.
*Anahit is a fictional name used to protect her identity.