Georgians retain many old-fashioned attitudes concerning gender equality. This is a verdict of a survey commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funds from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
Gender cliches remain strong in Georgia
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 26
The survey’s kind findings were presented on November 25th. The aim of the project was to reveal the Georgian public’s views about the roles of men and women in family life, business and politics. Research was conducted by the Georgian research agency ACT. ACT conducted 1,760 face-to-face interviews across Georgia, and held 16 focus group discussions in the Samegrelo and Kakheti regions.
The nation-wide research project looked into public perceptions on gender equality and compared the present results with the conclusions of previous research. The study reveals that the public stance towards gender has remains largely unchanged over the years. It also shows that different age groups in Georgia share similar beliefs, attitudes and stereotypes about women’s participation in political and economic activities.
Representative of ACT, Nino Gachechiladze, said that according to the survey’s findings, 88% of respondents think that men are supposed to be breadwinners for their families. 62% of women and only 37% of men think that women and men should make decisions together. The majority of respondents prefer to have a boy as their only child. Boys are also privileged in education and property rights. 57% agreed that men have a greater chance to obtain high-ranking positions. 68% of respondents would prefer a male presidential candidate. 54% believe that politics is too “dirty” and inappropriate for women. The research shows that the public is not against women’s involvement in business and politics, but rather that most Georgians think that only certain positions should be available to women. Concerning education, most surveyed people think that education should be equally available for men and women.
“Georgia has been successful in recent years in promoting gender equality through new legislation and politics. But fundamental changes in public perception take longer and are more difficult to achieve,” UNDP Head in Georgia, Niels Scott, stated, adding that the research conducted regarding gender equality will lead to new initiatives in the areas of human rights and civil education.
Eva Smedberg, from the Swedish Embassy, said that Georgia will not have real development without gender equality. While she gave credit to Georgia’s laws on gender equality, she emphasized that a major problem for Georgia is “stereotypical thinking.”
Head of Parliament’s Gender Equality Council, Manana Kobakhidze, expressed surprise concerning the outcome of the research. According to her, perceptions of gender roles in Georgia should have been changed in the last five years. She told The Messenger that Parliament has intensively worked on gender issues and will present an action plan concerning the issue in the next few days.
“The action plan will be discussed actively with the civil sector in November and December, and presumably will be adopted by Parliament next month. This is a complex issue and requires the involvement of different ministries. The Ministry of Education has serious plans concerning the problem. The Gender Equality Council will perform a coordinative role in this regard.” Kobakhidze said. She added that a Georgian delegation plans to visit Sweden, where gender-equality issues will be discussed as well.
“Sweden has important experience concerning gender equality and discussing the issue with them and sharing their experience will be profitable for Georgia.” Kobakhidze said.
Georgian Dream member Guguli Maghradze stated that many countries face the same problem concerning gender stereotypes. She emphasized that coordinative actions between government structures and an improving education system will lessen the problem.
United Nations Population Fund representative, Lela Bakradze, stressed that discussing gender issues at schools will encourage a change in stereotypes in the younger generation.
Lika Nadaraia, from the Women's Political Recourse Centre, stated that Georgian Public Broadcaster and other media outlets should increase discussion of gender-related issues.
Gender issues’ specialist Nani Tchanishvili advised organizations working on gender issues to consider Georgia’s multinational environment when making surveys on gender issues.
“Different ethnic groups have different stereotypes and the point is very significant when discussing gender equality and problems of stereotypes in Georgia.” Tchanishvili stressed.