Human rights, equality and education were at the center of a discussion with youth and civil society as representatives of the Embassy of Sweden to Georgia and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) visited the city of Kutaisi on 5 November.
At the meeting with Kutaisi International University students, UNDP Head Nick Beresford and Head of Development Cooperation/Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Sweden Erik Illes discussed the rapid development of technology as a powerful tool for promoting and protecting human rights and increasing the engagement of Georgian women in STEM education (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), currently hovering at 16%.
The high-level guests also met representatives of the ‘Identoba Youth’ organization and the local LGBTQI+ community. They talked about challenges faced by queer people and their supporters and discussed non-formal civic education as a way to achieve cultural and social change. ‘Identoba Youth’ is among the civil society organizations supported by Sweden and the UNDP to help expand their activities at a time of the pandemic and to respond to the needs of the communities they serve.
“It is inspiring to see all this young energy, creativity and the desire for learning. Young people must have every opportunity to live and study in an equal and safe environment free from discrimination and intolerance. The UNDP remains committed to assisting Georgia to build an inclusive and fair society where every person can fulfil their potential and no-one is left behind,” Beresford said.
“Education and the respect for human rights are the foundations of a prosperous society. As Georgia’s strong ally in many fields of sustainable economic and social development, Sweden promotes the principles of human rights, equality and diversity across all social groups, and especially among youth,” Illes noted.
The visit continued at the Akaki Tsereteli State University, where Beresford and Illes attended a hands-on Covid vaccination session organized by UNDP and Georgia’s National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) with Swedish government support.
The information and vaccination session was part of the ongoing Vaccines4Life campaign initiated by the NCDC and UNDP in partnership with a range of supporters (Denmark, the EU, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the United Nation’s Joint Fund for Sustainable Development Goals) to help debunk myths associated with Covid-19 vaccines and ensure high vaccine take-up. The campaign is reaching out to wide circles of Georgian society, including vulnerable and marginalized groups, people living in rural areas, and youth.