Taso Foundation – Georgia

About Us
TASO Foundation (TF) is the national women’s fund transformed from the Women’s Program of Open Society Georgia Foundation (1998-2006). Since 2007, TF operates independently with the mission Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment for Human Rights, Equality, Social Justice and Peace in Georgia. We see the problem of social and political passiveness in the majority of the population, especially in rural areas, which allows for the pretence of superficial democracy against the background of poverty of the majority, ethnically coloured conflicts and high unemployment. This impacts mainly rurally based people who suffer from the many unsolved bloody conflicts of the 1990’s and the war with Russia in 2008. The official number of internally displaced people is 258,595 but unofficially is estimated to be up to 500,000. This figure is included in 70% of the conflict – affected population of Georgia (the official figure of 3,729,500 still experience vulnerability of different kinds while 10% live in extreme poverty.

Working in rural Georgia since 2004, and focused on the conflict affected villages and settlements of internally displaced people since 2008, we know the huge distance between the state legislation on Human Rights/WHRs and its implementation in poor environments where people (mostly women as always and everywhere) struggle for survival. Every violation of HR’s, ranging from direct and severe violence to inefficiency of spending of the Village Program funds, is going on locally and it is only local people themselves that can make changes for the better. Therefore, TF invests in people, in women and girls, but also welcome to our programs men who are honest and motivated. We strengthen communities with knowledge and education, skills development, grant-giving and continuous consulting and coaching, but all starts with confidence building. Once people are mobilized, they see the complexity of the problems they face, they are able to analyse and respond with appropriate social activism.

TF believes in steady, continuous work and we build the programs on the results already achieved and have trust in the abilities of our grantee partners. TF practices different types of activities suitable for individual and complex circumstances: competition-based grant making; negotiation grants for experienced and trustworthy partners; operational activities; mixed activities. The library and archives of the Memory Research Centre at Taso Foundation are open for researchers, students and women’s movement activists. We act as a documentary maker (since 2001) and publisher (since 2004). In the years from 2007 to 2016 (by January, 2016) TF made 352 grants; total amount of grants made: which is the equivalent of US$ 600,526.

TF is member of key international networks and is most active in the Foundations for Peace Network (www.foundationsforpeace.org/) and International Network of Women’s Funds (www.inwf.org).

Main Programmes and Activities:Social Justice and Philanthropy, since 2011
Youth groups of volunteers: total 24 rurally based groups of volunteers (total around 200 girls and boys) based in rural/ conflict affected and IDP communities are associated with community foundations and community resource centres established and developed by participants of TF projects. This is the growing space of educating and guiding youth in creativity and skills development as well as the self-confidence, dignity and worthy voluntary contributions in development of respective communities and wider regions: Women’s HRs campaigns with main accent on the problem of early marriages; cultural, educational and athletic events and environmental activism/campaigns; creation of community histories through preserving women’s narratives, organizing exhibitions of photos from family albums etc.

Community Philanthropy
11 members of the growing Network of Community Foundations, initiated by TF in 2012, are active in 156 communities and, since 2013, have made total 103 small grant (total amount: equivalent of 48 262 USD). 36 organized groups of women and 19 groups of young volunteers are associated with CFs. Community Philanthropy is the program which makes “the big impact with small money,” the program in which the “good money finds good people”; this is said also about grantees of CFs, the network members. Motivated villagers, women mostly, but men as well, and the youth groups of volunteers are active for welfare of their communities and better future for themselves. They are gaining the recognition and appreciation of communities and local governments and create the opportunities of funding from local municipality budgets, as well as of institutionalization of what they have done (we already have cases of 4 community libraries, music school and the kindergarten, as well as the peace festival, recognized/co-financed from municipality budgets). CFs widen geography of their philanthropy continuously.

A Culture of voluntarism is promoted and exercised successfully through voluntary social activism of the women’s groups and groups of young volunteers, including those who partner community foundations in their philanthropic activism. This is the necessary background for social movement as it was demonstrated by TF partners in 2014 and 2015: more than 3000 community members were involved in the campaigns of 16 day’s activism against GBV and International women’s day for rights and equality.

National legislation for philanthropy
In 2016 TF made its 3rd attempt (after 2013 and 2014 submissions) at lobbying for the philanthropy draft-law in Parliament of Georgia.

Social mobilization of rural, IDP, conflict affected and ethnic minority women, since 2010
Through partnership with UN Women, TF received support and adjusted to Georgian rural context, practiced and widely shared the applying methodology of social mobilization. In 2011, while designing the Social Justice and Peace Philanthropy Program, we linked the community philanthropy to the process of social mobilization as its sustainability strategy. Thus we could sustain outcomes of both work directions and could ensure further replications, developments and geographic widening together with reliable and experienced partners. TF interacts with 64 Self-Help groups (SHGs) of rural, conflict affected, internally displaced and ethnic minority women active in 36 communities of 12 municipalities of 8 regions of Georgia and 3 villages of Gali district, situated beyond the administrative border with Abkhazia.

Evidence of the cost efficiency of the results of TF partners’ activism is clear – it is seen in the rehabilitation of outpatient clinics, village roads, kindergartens, community clubs, libraries etc. and the motivating of local-government for investing in grassroots organizations; to create the background for improvements in the national legislation on local governance; Along with growing recognition of the SHGs and community foundations among the respective communities and local self-governments. TF partners continuously accumulate power for advocacy, political participation and resultant dialogue with local government for gender justice planning and budgeting; accordingly, the level of citizen’ democratic participation is growing and quality of the self-governance, as democratic institutions is rising. Below is the TF’s video on social mobilization of rural, IDP, conflict affected and ethnic minority women.

Contact Info:
Website: www.taso.org.ge

Email: marina@taso.org.ge

Address: 15 Rezo Tabukashvili Str.; 0108, Tbilisi, Georgia

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