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Should there be more women in Georgian politics?

By Sopo Datishvili
Monday, March 9
On March 8 International Women’s Day is celebrated in Georgia. This tradition began on March 8, 1910 when Klara Tsetkin, the member of the Russian Social Democratic Party, arranged the second Conference of World Socialist Women in Copenhagen, attended by 100 delegates from 17 different countries. Tsetkin declares this date was the day of all female workers of the world. A year later March 8 was commemorated for the first time as Women’s Day, and this initiative was willingly approved by Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Russia.

Since then many years have passed. History has given us many examples of how successful a woman can be in such difficult fields as politics. However promoting gender equality in political parties has recently become an issue as the number of female politicians has decreased. On January 16 NGOs started talking about some changes in the law which would oblige political parties to ensure greater gender balance in their lists. Under their proposals, if both sexes were not equally represented the party be prevented from submitting its list to the Central Election Commission.

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze thinks that women politicians are quite active in Georgia today, in spite of their lack of numbers in the present Parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers no longer containing a single woman. “Women in politics - this subject can’t be discussed in general terms. They haven’t been as many female politicians as male but we all remember some of them, figures who reached the peak of their profession and gained much love and admiration, for example Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Indira Gandhi in India. In general female politicians are more popular than their male colleagues because they have a charisma which is so important for success in politics. I think our country doesn’t lack women in politics, though in previous years there were more in Parliament and the Cabinet,” Sakvarelidze said.

Labour Party member Nestan Kirtadze said that of course it would be good if more women were involved in politics but regulating this process by law wouldn’t be right. “As in every sphere, politics demands experience. So women who think they have the ability to become a politician should get involve in this field. Women in general take charge in every profession and politics isn’t an exception.”

Member of the New Rights Manana Nachkebia also underlined that women becoming involved in politics is very important. “I’m glad that my party understands the essence of gender balance quite well. We can see that the number of women in the legislative branch is very small, but there are several reasons for this. First of all changes should be made in the Labour Code about maternity leave and many other issues, then the fear of expressing views in opposition to the Government’s should be eradicated. I know many women who say they are indifferent to politics because they are not prepared to make opposition-minded statements. I think if the Government is changed these problems will be solved automatically. So special regulations for gender balance are absolutely out of place,” Nachkebia added.

During recent years the number of women in the legislative branch and in senior Government positions has been higher than it is now. But surprisingly female opposition representatives, who never lack critical opinions on other issues, don’t see any point in protesting about the decline in female representation in Parliament and Government. Moreover, they are sure that no artificial regulations are needed to raise the level of women’s involvement in the political life of the country.