International Women`s Day
To commemorate the international day of Wemen, UN Association of Sweden invited the UN sexual and reproductive health agency UNFPA, Läkarmissionen LM International, and the UN Association of Georgia to join in a seminar to discuss how their work for women’s rights have been affected by the pandemic and to discuss what is needed to go forward. The discussion was moderated by the President of the UN Association of Sweden, Annelie Börjesson. The event was held in English at Zoom.
Within her presentation, Tamta Khutsishvili, the program manager at UN Association of Georgia shared the main challenges related to gender equality and women rights in Georgia and the initiatives that UNAG implemented in last years.
Georgia made some significant strides forward in creating an enabling environment for gender equality in the past 30 years, including the adoption of the Gender Equality Law (2010), the Law on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (2014), as well as international conventions for protecting women against violence. Here must be underlined the provided specialized services for victims/survivors and raising public awareness on the need to combat gender-based violence. The recognition of equal rights for all is a cornerstone of its constitution, and dedicated legislation has been put in place to promote nondiscrimination and women’s rights. However, these measures have not translated into overall progress against regionally and globally comparable gender equality outcomes.
Despite the significant efforts, women and girls in Georgia still face violence in their private and public lives due to social and economic inequality, limited political participation of women, entrenched discriminatory social norms, stigma and deeply rooted harmful stereotypes.
Promoting women’s economic opportunities, access to endowments, and voice and agency is fundamental in tackling some of Georgia’s main policy challenges, including raising labor productivity, integrating with the global economy, and invigorating stagnant rural areas. Georgia ranked 85th out of 174 countries in the 2020 Human Capital Index (HCI). Despite almost universal school enrollment rates, ensuring good-quality learning and human capital accumulation for girls and boys remains a policy challenge.
Despite high-educational attainment, women face more limited access to economic opportunities than men. Georgia has a large gender gap in labor force participation, partially induced by women’s domestic responsibilities and lower wages. According to Human Capital Index 2020, only 43% of working-age women participating in labor markets.
Gender-based wage gaps in Georgia remain large, with a large share of wage differences explained by potential discrimination in labor markets. Female entrepreneurial potential faces several limitations, including limited access to finance and lack of relevant skills of the workforce.
Household responsibilities—such as childcare and elderly care— discourage women’s labor force participation, counteracting the positive impacts of women’s education.
Regarding challenges in Education, Women tend to graduate in arts and humanities, education, and health care, while men are more likely to major in engineering, manufacturing, agriculture, and services. Women are generally excluded from industrial activities and science/STEM.
One of the biggest challenges remains gender-based Violence. According to the World Bank’s Country Gender Assessment (March 2021) Over a quarter of surveyed women had experienced some form of GBV. Indicators of the national prevalence of GBV suggest that 6% of women in Georgia suffer lifetime physical and/or sexual intimate violence from their partners.
Intimate partner violence and child marriage are among the most prevalent forms of violence against women in Georgia. Women are still being killed by current or former partners and family members. In spite of a number of positive steps taken in the direction of combating violence against women and domestic violence, many challenges remain in the fight against femicide and the administration of justice on these cases. Over 150 cases of Femicide have been reported in Georgia in the last six years according to public defender report.
Another challenge, that needs to be mentioned is sex-selective abortion cases, It is widely recognized that the Caucasus has traditionally been a “male-dominated region,” with a particularly strong son preference. The traditional Georgian family is patrilineal. Patrilineality, also known as the male line, is a common kinship system in which an individual’s family membership derives from and is recorded through his or her father’s lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, rights, names, or titles by persons related through male kin. In such systems, women join their husbands’ families after marriage and are expected to care for their in-laws rather than their parents. Sons are expected to stay with their parents and take care of them. Thus, patrilineal systems make daughters less beneficial and desirable to their parents compared to sons. The picture is more dramatic in the regions. Interpreting a skewed sex ratio at birth as “missing girls” highlights the loss of girls due to a “preference for sons”.
Regarding Sexual and reproductive health, Lack of availability of youth friendly Sexual and Reproductive Health services, coupled with cultural stigma hinders youth access to youth friendly services and information, constituting a major risk for Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV as well as unintended pregnancies. Education on Reproductive Health and Rights for youth has not been institutionalized in the formal education and mostly informal and peer-to-peer education methods have been employed to reach out to young people with correct messages and information.
Women’s political participation and their influence on critical decision-making remain low. The latest parliamentary and local elections showed improvements in increasing women’s political representation but still left Georgia with a men-dominated political landscape.
To understand the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on men and women, the special assessment was carried out by the Georgian research agency with the financial support of UN organizations in Georgia. According to Assessment’s key findings, women have been more negatively impacted by the pandemic than men, particularly:
- 20% of employed women and 15% of employed men in Georgia lost their jobs because of the pandemic
- 40% of Georgians say they spend more time on domestic chores at a time of the pandemic. But for women, the burden has increased more than for men
- About 2/3 of Georgian women are the sole ones responsible for most of the household work.
- Only 26% of women compared to 36% of men say that their employment burden and working hours decreased during the pandemic.
- 33% of Georgians, among them 38% women and 27% men, cut down their healthcare spending to compensate for the household budgets shrinking because of the pandemic.
- Around half of Georgians report that their mental health has been affected as a result of the pandemic, but women (57%) are more affected than men (40%).
- Every 5th Georgian says domestic violence has increased during the pandemic - 23% of women and 17% of men say they have felt or heard about the increased cases of domestic violence.
What We Do:
Gender equality and women's rights are the cross-cutting objectives of UNAG’s diverse programs and projects. UNAG's one of the biggest target groups are youth. With our support, there are 14 youth centers functioning across the country on the SCO organization's bases. Two of them are located in the capital city Tbilisi, and the rest are in the regional municipalities. UNAG has involved youth across the country in a large-scale campaign for gender equality and women's rights.
Regional Campaigns for Gender Equality:
In order to meet the gender equality and women rights challenges in a more consolidated manner, UNAG established Gender Equality Task Force in partnership with governmental organizations. The major goal of establishing Gender Equality Task Force was to raise public awareness on the implications of early marriage and gender-based violence across communities in the remote villages of Georgia.
Within this initiative, UNAG provided a training of trainers (ToT) for the members of GE Task Force in partnership with the Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Ministry of Justice and the State Fund for Protection and Assistance of Victims of Human Trafficking (ATIP FUND). Upon completion of the TOTs, the 80 members of GE Task Forces have been delivering trainings in the most remote villages of Georgia about Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Implications of child Marriage. In order to organized as efficient information meetings as possible, the bilingual presentations were organized: in Georgian-Armenian and Georgian-Azerbaijanian languages in villages settled by Ethnic minorities.
As a result, Mobile Task Force members delivered over 280 trainings, engaging up to 8000 beneficiaries, including teachers, school students, parents, and community leaders. And covered up to 200 villages in 21 municipalities.
In 2021, to celebrate women history month, UNAG implemented a project “Women Portraits.” Within this initiative, UNAG developed over 20 photo stories/portraits depicting women from different professions /occupations (gender activists, teachers, school principals, doctors, judges, politicians, painters, musicians, public servants/decision-makers, social workers, journalists, writers/poets, etc.), ethnic and religious background, age group. The Photo essays were shared via social media and was organized an exhibition in Tbilisi.
UNAG’s concept for the travelling university was inspired by its youthwork through the Fostering Inclusive Democracy (FID). The Traveling University reverses the traditionally urban-centric communication channels and seeks to provide engaging education to the most vulnerable and underserved populations in Georgia - rural communities that have very limited access to economic, social and political life of the country. Within the Traveling University initiative UNAG organized lectures in the most remote villages of Georgia on Gender Equality, women rights, and a girl’s reproductive health. The travelling university reaches both youth and adults, including parents in rural communities, who have limited or no access to formal or informal education, venues, or opportunities for civic engagement. By targeting the rural areas, the project is able to reach the IDPs, unemployed, women, and other vulnerable groups, who are excluded from most social, political, economic and cultural processes in the country. In addition, these communities are also most susceptible to the taboos and false narratives against women’s rights, SRH/FP services in Georgia.