Initiatives during the past year have finally succeeded in putting gender equality at the heart of Georgian politics, thus drawing national attention to the difficulties. Gender equality advocates in Georgia have effectively encouraged Georgian officials to take action to close the gender gap. As a result of recent constitutional modifications, the state now has a new responsibility to promote gender equality and guarantee equal rights and opportunities for men and women. In 2018, the Georgia parliament voted for a proposed law that requires all political parties to publish proportional party lists, with at least half of their candidates being women (emalina, 2018). Despite these achievements, Georgian women face a wide range of obstacles daily. There is still a male-dominant culture in Georgia. There is a significant rate of femicide due to domestic abuse. As a result, women are still viewed as primary caregivers rather than leaders, despite advances in gender equality.
Since 2016, Women of Georgia, funded by NDI, has been working to build on Georgia’s progress toward gender equality. Women from all over Georgia were invited to share their stories to highlight the many challenges that Georgian women face daily. Georgian women’s initiative organization, referred to as A Woman’s Voice, provided the first platform in Georgia for women to freely discuss the issues of minority communities, such as women with disabilities, lesbian and transgender women, and challenged children mothers (Gersamia et al., 2021). The page opened discussions on sexual harassment and offered ethnic minority women’s viewpoints to a wider audience before the #MeToo movement gained popularity. In the end, 180 stories were gathered to depict the wide range of issues and challenges that women in Georgia face when they want to participate in public life (emalina, 2018).
“Women of Georgia” was widely praised, and the Facebook page regularly reached up to 411,000 people with its stories and articles. The tales were widely shared and liked by around 1.2 million Facebook users, hence reaching an estimated half a million Georgians. Some of the most prominent television shows invited some women to talk about the issues they raised online, which helped amplify the discourse around gender equality in the United States. In the wake of the project’s success, a video, a book, and a museum display were made. Women who have been victimized at work, a mother of a child with Down syndrome, a woman who has been in a mental institution, and an elderly woman, are all featured in the collection of stories and short films.
The “Women of Georgia” campaign was Georgia’s most extensive gender equality awareness campaign. Women’s political participation has contributed to the national attempts to enhance gender equality. According to the National Democratic Institute in December 2017, it’s believed that it is important to increase women’s involvement in parliament, and some believe that legislation against sexual assault should be passed. Civil society and a few elected officials have made substantial contributions to these issues.
Gender Inequalities and women rights issues in Georgia
Gender stereotypes and discrimination
Gender equality and women’s empowerment were central Soviet values; therefore, Georgia’s continued use of a gendered labor force rigidly may seem contradictory. Communist ideology required that both men and women engage in the workforce to portray the state as strong and self-reliant and for women to be free of the burden of home obligations. For economic and political reasons, women’s engagement in the “productive” sector was viewed as an important step toward independence. Establishing state-funded communal childcare facilities and a Communist Party division dedicated to “women’s affairs” were examples of how these ideas were realized during the Bolshevik era. ‘Working women’s rights were also promoted and publicized through the usage of the media. Though many women were “legally” employed by the state, they were typically confined to low-paying jobs requiring household tasks, making it difficult to achieve full equality in the workplace (Natsvlishvili, 2016). Due to a lack of funding, making women’s duties even more challenging.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the growth of Georgian nationalism, according to some, have worsened gender stereotypes. When it comes to the feminine ideal, it is closely associated with the concept of “motherhood,” which is commonly connected with the “reproductive and domestic sphere” and also with the old and patriarchal understanding of gender roles within family-focused religious doctrines. Girls’ and boys’ socialization into traditional gender norms maintained preconceptions and duties based only on gender. As a result, the media and educational instruction and materials reinforced gender stereotypes in Georgian society and promoted a general lack of awareness of gender disparities.
There was also a political denial of domestic violence during Soviet rule due to a belief that Communism effectively eliminated all types of inequality, such as gender inequality, even though many people were aware that domestic violence was still taking place. Women could not speak out against domestic abuse during the Stalinist era because of Soviet-led public discourse and a Georgian concept of home as a private space for state resistance. This veil of silence was reinforced throughout the Stalinist era. Research into Georgian women’s experiences of physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse has just begun following the Rose Revolution. As a result, the current gender equality gaps in Georgia, as evaluated by international and regional gender gap indicators, show a situation whereby the conservative post-Soviet societal practices and gender stereotypes restrict women’s duties, opportunities, and rights (UNDP Georgia, 2018). Rural and distant areas, particularly those plagued by conflict and populated by ethnic minorities, are more likely to have them than urban areas.
Conventional Georgian narratives of masculinity that portray men as home leaders, providers for their families, and decision-makers are increasingly at odds with the realities that influence male unemployment and the tendency for wives to be wage earners, if not the primary breadwinners, in the country. Angry and jealousy can soon turn into emotional and psychological abuse, quickly turning into physical and sexual assault, especially when drugs and alcohol are involved. Violence in male-female interactions is ‘normalized’ by deeper underlying factors such as gender inequality and conventional and patriarchal views about tradition and male dominance, which have the effect of ‘normalizing’ violence (Bendeliani, 2012). Several studies have shown that Georgia’s inflexible gender norms are widely accepted and often unquestioned. The majority of unpaid domestic care activities, including meal preparation, water, fuel fetching, and child care in poorer or more distant households, are often done by women in addition to paid work or unpaid farm labor. On the other hand, male and female sharing care duties are less common.
Social exclusion and discrimination are more common for women in Georgia because of gender stereotypes, especially for widows, single mothers, rural women, displaced people, individuals with disabilities, and minority groups (ADB, 2018). In addition, women who have been subjected to abuse because of their gender are especially susceptible to femicide. Georgia has functioned as an origin, route, and target country for women’s and girls’ sex trafficking and forced labor of women, men, and children. Gender stereotypes and traditional gender standards also influence the way in which LGBTI individuals are perceived. Discrimination against LGBTI people is illegal under the labor code and the Non-Discrimination Law, but progress in bringing these legal rights into line with social change has been slow, with the media frequently reinforcing negative stereotypes and portrayals of different identities and orientations, as well as hate speeches fueled by anti-gender homophobic groups. COVID-19 pandemic and other threats to human rights and security have influenced marginalization, discrimination against, and stigmatization of the LGBTQI community in Georgia by anti-gender groups and vulnerable to violence.
Gender inequalities in employment and entrepreneurship
Lack of investment in care services for children and the elderly; labor regulations that do not support domestic care or maternity leave; and underdeveloped gender-responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming in economic development policies impede women’s and men’s equal participation in the economy economic empowerment. As of 2020, women made up 40.4% of the labor force while males made up 62%. As a result, women dedicate three times as much time to unpaid work as men. Due to prejudice in land inheritance and limited financial resources, women entrepreneurs face an even greater disadvantage than men (just 32.4 percent of enterprises in Georgia are female owners). For the year 2019, the gender wage gap in Georgia amounted to 36.2%. For women, the average monthly pay is only 63.8 percent of the average monthly wage for men as of 2019.
In addition, males are more likely to work in male-dominated sectors such as engineering, building, transportation, communications, and gas and water suppliers. Working as a caregiver or service provider is common for most female workers. More women are working in healthcare and social services than men, with 60 percent of those employed in the hospitality industry being female and an overwhelming majority of school teachers being female. Less than 10% of construction workers are women; 23% are in transportation and communication. Unpaid agricultural production and informal employment are other common employment options for women. In addition to milk production and processing, women in the farming industry are also responsible for crop and animal management. According to a poll, women labor an average of 80 more days per year in agriculture than males. But because it is unpaid, this effort is sometimes overlooked and unappreciated, as it is part of the unpaid care job that women are supposed to do.
A number of barriers hinder the entrepreneurial potential of women. Only 16% of companies have a female CEO, compared to 1/5th of all business owners being female. Women in high positions of authority often cite a lack of financial resources as a major barrier to starting their businesses. Higher interest rates and more stringent collateral requirements for financing are common for female entrepreneurs.
Gender pay gap
Women may have less experience than men due to career interruptions related to childrearing and labor market discrimination. They may have less experience than men due to lower returns for the same individual. The two factors may reinforce one another, as women may be less motivated to invest in their professional development if they are exposed to workplace bias. Because the average working woman and man may not have equal education, work experience, productivity, or occupation/industry sector/other characteristics, it is necessary to take this into consideration when assessing the male-female wage gap. In the past, it’s likely that women have underinvested in their education or that the employment market marginalizes them for taking time off from work to take care of their families. A significant percentage of the gender wage gap can be attributed to women’s segregation in several low-paying occupations such as textiles. More and more studies have attempted to use personal and labor-market factors to account for the gender wage difference.
The pay disparity between men and women directly results from a lack of education. Women’s education is helping to decrease the gender gap around the world, notably in the higher deciles of the earnings distribution. Increasing the number of married women who enter the workforce and narrowing the gender wage disparity was made possible partly because of education. Higher levels of education may not have as much of an impact if the selection of educational disciplines is still focused on gender. Women are underrepresented in technical fields such as engineering and technology (Fuchs et al., 2018). In the same way, a woman’s educational background may define her career route, leading to gender segregation. Despite the fact that women are as competent in executing the obligations of vocations and industries dominated by men, gender stereotypes continue to influence women’s career choices. More than that, early in life, even educators and families discourage women from pursuing careers in the sciences and math, preferring instead “easier” vocations such as cosmetology, care work, medical transportation, and nursing.
Education and training are only two sides of the same coin. There are more interruptions in the workplace for women than men, such as childbirth and childrearing. A lack of on-the-job training can directly impact the quality of their work, but it can also have an impact on their attitude toward further education in general. Believe that women are less likely to invest in market-oriented schooling because they foresee interruptions, which affects their income.
Though their inclusion in earnings functions has been contested, marriage and children may have an impact on the gender pay gap. There exist an assumption that Wives and mothers may have selected vocations or industries that provided them with the freedom to care for their families, even if these jobs pay less than the average wage. If women are to excel in their occupations and make more money, they are expected to lessen their household responsibilities. This division of labor may have a negative impact on female productivity and income. Men and women may be paid differently because of their specialized roles. Women who are married have more duties at home, which means that single or unmarried women should be paid more per hour than married women. This would encourage these women to look for more convenient work and less taxing on their energy. In addition, women’s roles as mothers may prevent them from working overtime or taking long-distance travel assignments, resulting in the segregation into positions that require less effort and are less lucrative. Women are reluctant to work longer hours because of their obligations in the home. They link this to vertical segregation, limiting women’s access to higher-paying businesses. Depending on how woman prioritizes their family and work-related tasks, married women’s pay is more likely to be affected by marriage and children based on productivity.
Despite the significance of education and experience, the gender pay gap is largely due to disparities in women’s and men’s types of jobs. Females are more likely to work in lower-paying fields due to these educational fields and family-constrained norms (UN women, 2020). Working in these fields may make women feel safer, but they are well aware of the significant financial benefits that they will forgo. Easier or more “feminine” professions deserve lower pay since they are perceived as less prestigious or more feminine. Occupational segregation arises in either horizontal or vertical segregation. Vertical segregation indicates that a certain occupation, sector, or workplace’s professional progression opportunities are limited by gender, age, or race. In contrast, horizontal segregation signifies that men or women dominate a sector, occupation, or workplace. Because men are more likely to work in higher-paying masculine jobs and women are more likely to work in feminine jobs that are lower-paying, there are often large income gaps between men and women (Khitarishvili, 2016). Even if the occupational level is taken into account to rule out workforce segregation, gender pay disparities may remain within professions or sectors, especially if males in “feminine” jobs/sectors are paid more than women. Examples include textiles firms. A labor force created by society to benefit men comes down to social norms and attitudes.
Calculation of Gender pay Gap
The gender wage gap is the difference in hourly wages earned by men and women in the labor market, expressed as a percentage (Women, 2020).
Gender Wage Gap = 100% ((Men’s average hourly wage – Women’s average hourly wage) /Men’s average hourly wage)
It is usual to use net wages when the gross wage is not available in the above formula. The gender pay gap is calculated by comparing the log hourly income difference between men and women, despite the theoretical assumption that this comparison should be based on the overall average wage. This simple formula will be used to determine the difference in raw pay between the two employees. We’ve said it before, but the fact that men’s and women’s earnings differ immensely hides important information about the factors that underlie income inequality.
Promoting Gender Equality in Georgia
One of the most important characteristics of this measurement is the Parliamentary approval for the “Women, Peace, and Security” Action Plan for 2012-2015, which the Georgian Parliament granted in 2011. the action plan was focused on the inclusion of women’s needs in conflict prevention, sexual and gender-based violence against women prevention, protection of women affected by war from physical and social harm, as well as the provision of services tailored to meet the unique needs of women in war-torn areas, and the post-conflict recovery of women.
In 2015 the National Action Plan approved Measures to be implemented for Combating Violence against Women, Domestic Violence, and the Protection of Victims. In a larger sense, the declaration addresses women’s domestic and sexual assault concerns.
The Georgian Parliament formed the Gender Equality Council according to the country’s national statute on gender equality to ensure that actions on gender issues are uniform and coordinated. A yearly report on the state of gender equality and an update on the status of international gender equality responsibilities is submitted by the Council to the Georgian Parliament.
The Georgian Parliament passed the National Action Plan 2014-2016 to implement Gender Equality Policy 2014 (unesco, 2016). The Action Plan aims to strengthen institutional structures and platforms to better address issues about gender equality and align national gender equality legislation with international standards.
Georgia’s president declared 2015 the Year of Women, emphasizing the significance of boosting women’s participation in public and political life, particularly through temporary special measures and quotas, among other things.
Results expected after implementation of the measures
Strengthening the political and economic rights of women; ensuring equality in employment, education, and science, information access, healthcare, and social protection, and family relationships; enhancing female participation in peace and security efforts; preventing violence against women and girls; establishing regular dialogue on the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality; protecting domestic violence victims and survivors (unesco, 2016). All types of gender discrimination in society and the creation of necessary conditions to implement equal rights, freedoms, and opportunities for both men and women are encouraged by the measure (Tbilisi, 2010). It also promotes more active roles for women in peacekeeping and security and the safety of those who have been victimized by domestic violence.
ADB. (2018). GEORGIA COUNTRY GENDER ASSESSMENT. https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/institutional-document/479186/georgia-country-gender-assessment.pdf
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Bendeliani, N. (2012). United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women), United Nations Children Fund (Unicef), Office of the UN Resident Representative in Georgia. https://georgia.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/Gender%20Equality%20Report%20%28Engl%29.pdf
Women, U. (2020). ANALYSIS OF THE GENDER PAY GAP AND GENDER INEQUALITY IN THE LABOUR MARKET IN GEORGIA. https://georgia.un.org/sites/default/files/2020-05/gender%20pay%20gap_georgia_eng.pdf
Fuchs, A., Tiwari, S., & Shidiq, A. R. (2018). Inequality of Opportunity in South Caucasus. World Bank, Washington, DC. https://doi.org/10.1596/1813-9450-8432
Khitarishvili, T. (2016). Gender Dimensions of Inequality in the Countries of Central Asia, South Caucasus, and Western CIS. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2727425
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Natsvlishvili, I. (2016). Gender Inequality and Women’s Entrepreneurship-Challenges and Opportunities (Case of Georgia). Country Experiences in Economic Development, Management, and Entrepreneurship, 491–505. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46319-3_30
Gersamia, M., Toradze, M., & Markariani, L. (2021). The Voice of Women and Challenges of Gender Equality in Georgian Media. Handbook of Research on Discrimination, Gender Disparity, and Safety Risks in Journalism. https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/the-voice-of-women-and-challenges-of-gender-equality-in-georgian-media/267637
unesco. (2016, April 20). Promoting Gender Equality in Georgia. Diversity of Cultural Expressions. https://en.unesco.org/creativity/policy-monitoring-platform/promoting-gender-equality-georgia
emalina. (2018, March 15). Pushing for Greater Gender Equality in Georgia. Www.ndi.org. https://www.ndi.org/our-stories/pushing-greater-gender-equality-georgia
UN women. (2020, April 15). Gender pay gap remains a challenge for Georgia. UN Women – Georgia. https://georgia.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/04/gender-pay-gap-remains-a-challenge-for-georgia