ENGRUS

Why Georgian Women Need Rights Instead of Flowers

   
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International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th. In Georgia, many women receive flowers on this day. Instead, some are asking for protection of their rights.
 
This data highlights the situation of and attitudes toward women in Georgia, based on official statistics and public opinion research:
 
Gender based violence starts in Georgia even before a girl is born:
 
•   While 76% of the population of Georgia say abortions are never justified, people tend to act differently if a girl is expected. As a result of sex selective abortions in 1990-2010, 25,000 girls are estimated to be missing in Georgia.
•   If a family is to have only one child, every fourth person prefers a boy while only one in ten prefers a girl.
 
If and when she is born, she grows up in a society where:
 
•   22% consider a university degree to be more important for a boy than for a girl;
•   57% believe that it is not acceptable for a woman of any age to drink hard alcohol such as vodka or brandy;
•   81% think that it is not acceptable for a woman of any age to smoke tobacco;
•   56% think that it is not acceptable for a woman of any age to live apart from her parents before marriage;
•   69% believe that it is never justified for a woman to have sexual relationships before marriage;
•   57% believe that it is never justified for a woman to give birth to a child without being married.
 
Then she gets married and hears that:
 
•   A man should normally be the only breadwinner in the family;
•   He should also be the main decision maker in the family;
•   Women cannot be as successful in their career as men because of the household responsibilities they have; 
•   Taking care of the home and family satisfies a woman as much as a paid job.
 
She will then become a mother in a country where:
 
•   The maternal mortality rate is the worst in Eastern European and neighboring countries;
•   65% of people believe that “it is better for a preschool aged child if the mother does not work”;
•   One in three do not believe that “employed mothers can be as good caregivers to their children as mothers who do not work”;
•   74% believe that a woman is more valued for her family than for success in her career.
 
If she perseveres and gets a job, she will:
 
•   Earn 39% less than men, on average.
•   Have difficulties in career progression since the vast majority of people think that women are not as good at decision making as men, and nearly one in five men would feel uncomfortable with a woman as their immediate boss.
 
If she ever has problems with her husband:
 
•   Every other compatriot would tell her that in order to preserve the family, a woman should endure a lot from her spouse;
•   Initiating divorce will only be justified to others if she is physically abused by her husband. If her husband is being unfaithful, psychologically abusive, or if she is no longer in love with him, these simply are not good enough reasons for a women to initiate divorce; 
•   If her husband is psychologically abusive, most people will simply ignore her problems, since it is widely believed that non-physical violence is a matter that should only be dealt with in the family. And 39% of the population thinks the same about physical violence.
 
All these findings, and the sexism that underlies them, are likely accountable for the fact that there have been more than 60 gender-based murders or attempted murders of women in the past two years in Georgia. But the human rights committee of the parliament of Georgia has rejected a proposal that would define femicide as a premeditated murder of a woman based on her gender.
 
And still, every fifth person in the country says there is gender equality in Georgia.
 
The list of issues presented above is by no means exhaustive, but rather provides an overview of data which contributes to an understanding of perceived gender roles in Georgia. 
 
Natia Mestvirishvili is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at CRRC-Georgia and a Researcher at the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).