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Gender equality; when the ladies go marching in

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, October 22
The democratisation of Georgia is being discussed all over the country at all levels. Although there are many different opinions on what democracy should consist of there are certain issues on which both Government and opposition agree. Chief among these is that steps must be taken to achieve greater gender balance in Georgian politics. As a first step it has been suggested that parties which do not include at least three females in the top ten places on their party list will be disbarred from standing for election.

It should be admitted that there are few females in the Georgian Parliament, where the ruling party enjoys an overwhelming majority. Out of 150 MPs only seven are female, and only one of these is in the opposition. The non-Parliamentary opposition does not have much of a gender balance either. For instance Irakli Alasania’s party list includes only one female in its top ten, Nino Getsadze. The Republicans have two, Tina Khidasheli and Sopo Khorguani, and New Rights also only has two, Manana Nachkhebia and Pikria Chikhradze. Irakli Okruashvili’s party has Eka Beselia and Teo Tlashadze, Labour has only Nestan Kirtadze and Nino Burjanadze, Salome Zourabichvili and Guguli Maghradze are leaders of parties which have no more females in their list of top ten candidates. Ironically, Maghradze is the leader of the Women’s Party.

So all the parties have serious challenges ahead of them in mobilising women by trying to attract into their parties well known figures from show business, commerce, journalism and other fields. In Communist times there were more women involved in politics because the Party was fond of putting milkmaids and cooks in Parliament in order to show off to the West how equal Communist society was. However no Communist country was ever run by a woman, nor did women ever hold a majority of positions in the various politburos, which were frequently all male. What will attract more women into politics in this day and age no one can predict, but those fighting for gender equality say that women know better the cost of war and peace, and this gives them added reason to try and make a difference in a country which has experienced too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

Women’s rights and achieving a gender balance are very much in fashion in the West and the Georgian political spectrum has to take this into account if they want the country to be one of the civilized nations. However we should remind ourselves of one fact from Georgia’s history. The most prosperous period in the history of Georgia, when its borders reached their furthest extent, was the age of Queen Tamar, who was actually called by title King Tamar. Moreover historically Georgia is a country where there is the utmost respect for females. The symbol of the capital is the Mother of Georgia, who greets us from the hills overlooking the city centre with a cup of wine for our friends and a sword for our enemies.

Achieving gender balance may be a noble idea in itself, but the problems the country faces now cannot be resolved simply through gender balance. They are too serious and can only be addressed by mobilising all parts of society. Of course involving women in these processes could be vitally important, but involving women just to achieve a numerical target is the sort of cosmetic measure a serious country should be at pains to avoid.

Georgia has much to do in protecting women’s rights, combating trafficking, adjusting the labour code and protecting female prisoners’ rights. All these issues should be addressed on a practical as well as a legislative level, but this is a field where the administration and all sorts of opposition parties can harmonise their efforts. There are very few such fields in Georgia today. This is the current importance of this issue.

Maybe it would be a good idea to have a female President and a majority of women in both Government and Parliament. Let us give them a try. Maybe they can run the country more efficiently, while the men dedicate themselves to the Supra and Nardi.