The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Azerbaijan have opened two new regional resource centres in Zagatala in an effort to enhance entrepreneurship and employment in the North-Western part of Azerbaijan.

The new Women’s Resource Centre and Youth Employment and Training (Syslab) Centre will support key development priorities for Azerbaijan in the area of women empowerment and youth employment. The Centres will offer employment opportunities and learning platforms on a range of diverse topics helping women and youth prepare for the labour market.

The initiative is the result of a partnership between UNDP, USAID, Azerbaijan’s State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population started in 2015 with the Economic Empowerment for Entrepreneurship and Employment (E4) project financed by USAID and co-financed and implemented by UNDP. The five-year partnership has brought to life a successful Women’s Resource Centre in Masalli and two more Syslab Centres for youth in Masalli and Ganja.

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The opening ceremony in Zagatala brought together Chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs Hijran Huseynova, U.S Ambassador Lee Litzenberger, UNDP Resident Representative Alessandro Fracassetti and Head of State Employment Services of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population Fuad Musayev.

Speaking at the opening of the two new centres, UNDP Resident Representative in Azerbaijan Alessandro Fracassetti noted that the empowerment of women and youth is a key element for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Through the years, this project has helped create an environment where women and youth have access to a wide range of opportunities for engaging in meaningful and productive social and economic activities,” Alessandro Fracassetti said.

As the new chapter begins in Zagatala, the project has already achieved a number of important milestones having extended support to a number of women who now are leading their own businesses in Zagatala and providing employment for other women in their communities.

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Hundreds of women and girls have already benefited from various training programmes and networking events offered in Zagatala. The project learning platforms have covered a range of diverse programmes and topics, including gender sensitive program development and community outreach, financial literacy, financial management and family budget planning, fundraising and proposal writing, computer science, resume writing and accounting, to name a few.

Up to date, more than 160 women in Zagatala have joined various awareness raising campaigns on women’s economic and social rights, gender mainstreaming and have joined the network of the Women’s Resource Centre.

Only this year, Syslab Centres in Ganja, Masalli and Zagatala have provided over 300 youth –more than half of them women –a series of training programmes to help them improve employability and professional skills with that 66 percent of them have found new jobs with local businesses and organizations.

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Currently, UNDP operates eight Women’s Resource Centres and three Syslab Youth Employment And Training Centres across the total of 9 regions of the country helping chart a new future for women and youth –in partnership with the central and local governments in Azerbaijan and through financial support from the USAID, the European Union, the Governments of Switzerland and Austria, UN Women and the Coca Cola Foundation.