Women Step Forward in Azerbaijan: Teacher Gets Elected to City Council

Nehayet Abbasova participates in women empowerment training.
Nehayet Abbasova participates in women empowerment training.
Ganja Regional Women's Center
Training gives budding leaders skills and support
“I believe that we can reach everything we dream of if we really want it. [The course] helped me understand who I am and what I can do.”

April 2015—Nehayet Abbasova, a secondary school teacher from the Shamkir region in Azerbaijan, had long sought the chance to attend educational courses. Despite her aspirations, rural Azerbaijan lacks opportunities for intellectually curious people to obtain new skills or gain practical knowledge.

In this confined environment, a recent training organized by the Ganja Regional Women’s Center, with support from USAID’s Women’s Participation Program, provided critical assistance.

In April 2014, Abbasova came across an announcement on the Ganja Regional Women’s Center’s Facebook page for a training on empowering women to participate in local decision-making. She immediately seized on the opportunity. Following the four-month training, she enrolled in the center’s two-month women’s leadership course. The course, held from October to November 2014, helped her to become more self-confident and motivated her to nominate herself for municipal elections held in December.

Abbasova started an active pre-election campaign by creating a support group. She also held a number of meetings in Shamkir city encouraging people to support women candidates.

“I met a lot of people, mostly from my community of Posanly, to learn and discuss their everyday problems,” she said.

In December, Abbasova was elected as a council member of the local municipality.

“I believe that we can reach everything we dream of if we really want it. Thank you for this course. It helped me understand who I am and what I can do,” said Abbasova.

Over the past three years, the Women’s Participation Program has partnered with four women’s centers across Azerbaijan to build the self-esteem and communications skills of more than 5,000 women, helping prepare them to effectively express their ideas and participate more fully in their communities and careers.

Abbasova is very optimistic about her new role as a council member. She is focusing her efforts on advancing women’s education and career development as well as helping families resolve domestic problems. “I think these two are my main points for now,” said Abbasova.

Her future plans also include getting married to the fiancé she met through the program and raising children while remaining an active woman in public issues. “My plans are not limited to these ones, though. I know one day I will take a leading position,” she said.

Through the leadership course, Abbasova gained knowledge and skills she is using in her daily life and work. The course was part of more than 15 training sessions organized by USAID to encourage women in more than 10 regions of Azerbaijan to join municipal elections. Abbasova is one of 97 USAID-trained women who were elected in municipal elections in December, many with little or no support from their families, friends and neighbors.

The Women’s Participation Program, which runs from 2011 to 2015 and is implemented by Counterpart International, is designed to improve the status of women in Azerbaijan by raising public awareness on issues that affect women and empowering more women to engage in political processes.


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