Sweden and UNDP promote partnerships to bring more women into the decision-making
Gender equality is a part of the ‘growth and stability’ equation. The absence of women from positions of leadership and power challenges democratic governance and threatens sustainable development. These were the main messages of the conference ‘Break the Bias, Embrace Diversity’ that gathered in Batumi on 26 March.
The event was organized by the Gender Equality Council of the Supreme Council of the Ajara Autonomous Republic and was supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of Sweden as part of the ongoing campaign for gender equality.
The conference participants addressed a range of issues that hold Georgian women back from being more actively represented in governance and decision-making. They also discussed how the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government at central and local levels could better work with each other and the private and civic sectors to build an environment where women and men could lead equally on life-changing decisions shaping policy, economy and society.
The conference brought together representatives from the national and local authorities, lawmakers, businesses and civil society organizations.
UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia Nick Beresford; Ajara Supreme Council Chairperson David Gabaidze; Georgian Parliament Member Khatia Tsilosani; Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Mzia Giorgobiani; Chair of the Gender Equality Council of the Supreme Council of Ajara Pati Khalvashi; representative of a local non-governmental organization ‘Solidarity Community’ Nestan Ananidze; and other speakers presented their views of gender equality in governance and discussed how to boost women’s engagement in political and economic decisions.
“Gender equality is a foundation for creating greater shared prosperity. It’s how we strengthen human rights and establish a lasting peace. Bringing equality to gender relations benefits everyone,” Beresford noted.
Even though Georgia is among the countries that introduced electoral quotas to empower women to play a more active role in politics, women’s political participation remains low – around 19 percent in the parliament and 24 percent in local administrations.
Almost 60 percent of women are not engaged in the formal labor market, which may cost Georgia over 11 percent of its current GDP per capita. The number of women-led businesses has slightly decreased between 2017 and 2019; women own less than 30 percent of enterprises registered in 2019.
Despite these worrying figures, UNDP and UNFPA research shows that public opinion in Georgia is shifting in favor of women pursuing political and other careers. Three out of four men are comfortable with having a woman manager and 60 percent of Georgians think that the involvement of women in politics would benefit their country.