Gender and Democratization: the Case of Georgia 1991-2006

Gender and Democratization: the Case of Georgia 1991-2006

February 10, 2007 by
Heinrich Boell Foundation

What role have women played in Georgia’s transition to democracy?
What is the formal and legal framework for gender equality in Georgia; how and by whom has it been put into practice?
What role does civil society play in democracy building and the advancement of gender democracy?
What factors support and hinder the process of establishing equal rights and opportunities for women and men?
What impact – positive or negative – can international organizations and foundations make in this process?

“Gender and Democratization: the Case of Georgia 1991-2006” examines these questions.

The South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation (hbf), together with its Head Office in Berlin, commissioned Tamar Sabedashvili to draw up this analytical survey in order to obtain a picture of the status of gender democracy in Georgia and of the specific challenges that need to be addressed in order to further support democratization processes in the country.

In addition, we believe that the methodology, build-up and applicability of this situation analysis can serve as a useful tool in the context of hbf's worldwide democracy-building work.

Gender democracy is one of hbf’s main tenets. It means social emancipation and equal rights for women and men. Within the Foundation, gender democracy is a cross-cutting task, i.e. it is an integral part of all our activities. There is no such thing as a textbook for promoting gender democracy - instead it is a work-in-progress aimed at improving our organization as well as society as a whole. Concepts for gender democracy have to be reworked and relived again and again, always with deference to the concrete social and cultural environment.
The case study of Georgia was presented at hbf’s International Conference for all worldwide offices in Lahore, Pakistan on 2-10 March 2007. There, it served as an example of how to reveal the potentials and challenges of consistent and precise integration of gender-sensitive approaches into democracy-building activities.

As far as our concrete work in the South Caucasus office is concerned, the situation analysis has helped us reassess and reflect upon our previous activities and priorities in the fields of gender equality and democracy-building and, consequently, given us recommendations for the further development of our programmes.

Sabedashvili gives a concise and critical overview of the current situation in Georgia with regard to gender and democratization processes. Many of the findings and statements presented in the survey offer valuable food for thought and present challenges that must be tackled:

  • The de jure basis for gender equality has been laid in Georgia, but a considerable lack of de facto implementation and enforcement exists. The performance of both pre- and post-rose revolution governments has been indicative of this.
  • The lack of political will, traditional perceptions about gender roles and stereotypes, and a low level of public awareness constitute the principal barriers to the substantive establishment of gender equality.
  • At present, the society as a whole is not represented effectively on the political arena. In an environment of generally weak political representation, people consider gender equality issues irrelevant.
  • International actors working in the field of women’s rights and empowerment often fail to carefully plan and coordinate their programmes, which leads to duplication of work and unhealthy competition among local women’s NGOs.

Although the study was initially commissioned for hbf internal use, it can also prove useful to other actors involved in democracy-building in Georgia. It can be particularly helpful as a needs assessment document in the planning phase of new programmes and activities. In addition, it makes an absorbing read for anyone interested in democratic processes in Georgia.

We look forward to receiving your feedback.

Mira Sovakar
Project Manager
Heinrich Böll Foundation
South Caucasus Regional Office

2007

Table of contents:

Introduction  7
Women in Georgia’s Transition to Democracy  8
Gender Equality Issues in Georgia's Laws and Policies  17
Democratization, Gender and Civil Society  28
Conclusion and Recommendations  36
Bibliography  39
List of Interviews  42
Annexes  43
The State Concept on Gender Equality  43
Guiding Questions for Subject-Based Interviews  47
Fact-sheet About Georgia  48

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