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Photo: Daro Sulakauri/UNDP

Shattering Myths about Women in Georgian Political Parties

Artificial barriers and societal misconceptions are the main reasons for women to be less active in Georgian political parties, concludes the research unveiled by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on June, 13, 2017. 

The research examines the obstacles faced by Georgian women while striving for a political career and dispels some existing myths on women’s political participation.

This comprehensive study has been commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Government of Sweden, and carried out by a Georgian non-governmental organization “Union Sapari” under the UN Joint Programme “For Gender Equality”.

“The research arrives at an important time when Georgia is getting ready for the local self-governance elections this fall. We hope that its findings will provide political parties with information and insights needed in shaping their candidate lists and ensuring that female and male candidates are given equal chances. Political participation of women is the key for ensuring gender equality in every area of life and political parties play the critical role in making this happen,” Niels Scott, Head of UNDP in Georgia, said at the launch of the study today.

The discussion about the research findings brought together representatives of political parties, local and international organizations and women’s rights activists.

MP Dimitri Tskitishvili (“Georgian Dream”), MP Elene Khoshtaria (“European Georgia”), MP Nika Melia (“United National Movement”) and MP Ada Marshania (“Patriots’ Alliance of Georgia”), addressed the participants of the event with welcome remarks.

The conclusions of the research Women in Political Parties: Deconstructing Myths are based on a qualitative survey, conducted among top and middle management of parliamentary political parties in Georgia – “Georgian Dream”, “United National Movement”, “European Georgia” and “Patriots’ Alliance of Georgia”, in March – May 2017. The qualitative data is complemented with the reports of personal experiences of female politicians and activists.

The research suggests that male privilege and power within political parties is a significant reason why women are underrepresented in Georgian politics. Myths such as ‘women are incompetent/unable to manage conflict/uneducated’ continue to sustain a male-dominated party system and exclude women from more prominent positions within political parties. The deconstruction of such myths has the potential to break down the barriers and encourage more women to take part in politics and occupy more important positions in parties. Interviews conducted as part of the research show that women are only allowed to enter political party as agitators and lower level activists. The results point to motivated, educated and critically-thinking women that feel side-lined and disrespected.

In addition to the conclusions and findings, the research includes a package of recommendations that are meant to support political parties in advancing gender equality in Georgian politics.