The 2004 Rose Revolution succeeded in part thanks to women's vibrant participation. Now the Women's Fund in Georgia is shaking up the country's legal structure and reclaiming women's historic connection to philanthropy.
For centuries, women in the Caucasus nations advanced education and culture, and created charities. However, during Soviet rule this tradition was treated as a bourgeois relic and forced underground.
The Fund grew out of the Educational Cooperation and Development Center, a women's organization formed in 1998 that built strong ties with women's groups and local businesses. The group developed experience with grantmaking when it received a $20,000 partnership grant from the Global Fund in 2002 that it regranted to 12 small women's groups in remote areas of Georgia.
To engage the private sector in funding women's organizations, the group is advocating for legislative changes that will allow individuals and companies to make tax-deductible gifts to nongovernmental organizations. Such incentives are currently nonexistent in the region.
As the Women's Fund explains, "For Georgian women, philanthropy is the power which helps them make a choice dictated by both heart and mind. Only this kind of independent choice gives women the chance to fulfill their principles, rights and responsibilities."
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