Annual Forum Emphasizes Women’s Role in Georgia

Tbilisi’s third annual Forum of Women Councilors began Tuesday to discuss parliamentary quotas, strengthening the role of women in local government, developing pre-school education and the participation of citizens in local self-governance.

Delegates at the forum will discuss various topics with local government and civil organization representatives.

Senior Director of the National Democratic Institute in Georgia Laura Thornton emphasized in her opening remarks that women have to become a driving force of change at the local level.

“This year the ‘Win with Women’ conference focuses on the important role women play in local governance, both as citizens and as leaders. Local government is the first point of contact for citizens with their elected officials and in many ways deals with issues most important to people's daily lives. Globally, the more women there are in these offices, the better they respond to people’s needs," Thornton said.

Shombi Sharp, Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Georgia, stressed the importance of bringing more women into politics – both locally and on the national level.

“Empowering women to realize their full potential for the betterment of social, economic and political life is an essential part of the new global Sustainable Development Goals through 2030. While Georgia has made significant progress in establishing important gender equality laws and policies, a lot remains to be done to translate that into real change. Women still only make up around 12 per cent of the representatives in Tbilisi’s city assembly and the national parliament. This denies local communities and the country a tremendous amount of wisdom, skill and experience. Today we are discussing practical ways to turn this around as so many other countries have,” Sharp said.

Meryl Frank, the former mayor of Highland Park, New Jersey and former ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Eka Sepiashvili, Georgian parliamentarian and member of the Gender Equality Council Guguli Magradze and Eva Smedberg – counsellor at the Swedish Embassy in Tbilisi are also in attendance.

The conference was organized by the National Democratic Institute, Municipal Service Providers Association and the United Nations Development Programme in cooperation with the Government of Sweden, the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus and Austrian Development Cooperation and the UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality in Georgia.

09 February 2016 17:31