The National Democratic Institute (NDI) hosted a conference called "Win with Women: Strengthen Political Parties" at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel on November 15th. The main topics of the conference were women’s role in Georgian politics and those problems Georgian women politicians have come across carrying out their duties. The conference was attended by the NDI Head to Georgia Luis Navarro, the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland, Swedish Ambassador to Georgia Diana Janse, representatives from the diplomatic corps in Georgia and Georgian Dream (GD) and United National Movement (UNM) representatives.
NDI hosts a conference on women’s involvement in politics
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, November 16
According to Ambassador Norland, the U.S. government supports increased involvement of women in the Georgian political arena.
“More women in the Georgian Parliament will encourage protection of the interests and concerns of all Georgians.” Norland stated before adding that Prime Minister Bidzina Ivansihvili also supports further involvement of women in Georgian politics.
According to Ambassador Janse, Georgian women, including politicians, have the same problems as women in many European countries. They are paid less than their male colleagues and have fewer opportunities to be actively involved in social, political or economic fields.
“It should be emphasized that in those countries where gender equality exists economic welfare and advancement is obvious. These statistics should be taken into consideration if a country wishes to achieve economic improvements.” Janse stated.
Fellow representative of Sweden and former Swedish MP Bonnie Bernstrom emphasized that the high involvement of women in politics in Sweden has significantly helped the country’s success in various fields. According to Bernstrom 45% of the Swedish Parliament consists of women.
Bernstrom appealed to Georgian female politicians to be more helpful to one another. “Female solidarity has greatly helped the advancement of women in politics as a whole."
Lack of financing and media problems have been named as the most serious problems Georgian women politicians currently face.
According to Georgian Dream representative Manana Kobakhidze, during the parliamentary elections of October 1 both men and women politicians had to work in an unequal environment due to the unjust conditions imposed by the previous administration.
“The situation concerning women in Georgian politics has improved recently. The new parliament has more female MPs than the previous one. Women can play a serious role in politics as they are more diplomatic and can handle some situations better than men. The parliamentary elections showed this.” Kobakhidze stated.
UNM representatives stated that they hope meetings and conferences are organized which will focus on concrete problems and that all sides will discuss ways that the problems might be solved.
Member of non- parliamentary opposition New Rights party Manama Nachkeba, stated that lack of funding discourages Georgian women from becoming actively involved in politics. According to Nachkeba Georgian women can only achieve success in politics only if they win the financial support of a political party. She added that the media environment in Georgia is only focused on already famous women and that is difficult for new faces to emerge.
“Thus creating some financial mechanism to help female politicians and changing the media environment might encourage more women to become involved politically.” Nachkebia said.
MP Guguli Maghradze claims that Georgian society is not interested in an increased role for women in politics.
“I think that the public should demand an increased role for women in politics. I suppose that first of all some PR projects should be carried out that will better inform our society as to how women can play a positive role in politics.” Maghradze suggested.