Author of the given Essay is the student of Caucasus International University Khatia Chomakhashvili. The Essay was prepared specifically for the contest on “Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia” organized by IDFI in cooperation with UNDP Georgia and with the financial support from the Government of Sweden.
The conditions of women have always been a topic of discussion. In history, philosophy, natural sciences etc. these problems were reflected differently with various conclusions being reached. Religion put special emphasize on the role of women in society and family, on their inherent traits, good and bad sides. For thousands of years, women were deprived the ability to fully express their intellect. Christianity always threatened women with anathema and reinforced their dependency. In the Middle Ages, this attitude was strengthened and relations with the “weaker sex” were declared to be sin.
It is entrenched in the consciousness of humans that socially and societally active women badly impact children, family relations, etc. Such perceptions create a sense of guilt in women and hider their professional development.
Achieving gender equality in Georgian regions turned out to be harder than imagined. What is meant under gender equality?! Gender balance means equal presence, rights, obligations and participation of men and women in every aspect of private and public life. Gender equality is an inseparable part of human rights; however, in our reality, we are faced with a situation where even discussion of gender equality is not allowed, where men violate the rights of women, and where we encounter many cases of violence against women.
In the village of Chantliskure and several other villages of Kvareli district, where Avars live, the tradition of female genital mutilation is still practiced, which includes clitoridectomy and sometimes the removal of labia minora. As a result, sexual desire significantly reduces or disappears. Why does it happen? The answer is in religion. Those who receive Islam should be circumcised. It is a symbol of initiation, purity, and a sign loyalty to the husband; by reducing women’s sexual desires, the risk of infidelity is also reduced; however, I think sexual productivity is as much necessary for women as for men.
In Muslim villages, cases of early marriage are common, when girls are forced to marry. Marriage is not an appropriate word for this, it is more an exchange, when a 14-year-old girl is exchanged for cattle, and told that “family is well-off, you won’t be in need, live without problems, have and take care of children”. The girl is deprived her right to education, self-determination, and to choose her own future.
In Georgian villages and cities, the tradition of virginity of girls before marriage is widely followed. While Christianity does not have a circumcision tradition, nor forceful early marriages, it does scorn premarital sex. , which is considered to be shameful, degrading. The word “used” is often used to denote a woman who is not a virgin outside marriage, as if she is a product. A woman who is not a virgin is subjected psychological pressure and abuse from society. As strange as it might sound, all this happens in the 21st century. If men have the right to premarital sex, so do woman. No human should be abused for sexual desires and free sex.
Could women be equal to men, hold high positions, have business relationships with intellectuals, and work on important political positions? In the modern world, almost no barriers exist, but women rarely decide to participate in politics or run businesses. Strong, determined, hardworking women can also be feminine, caring, and attractive. Women in politics are rare. The society slowly rethinks degrading stereotypes on women, particularly that politics is a domain of the strong, i.e. men. Words “woman and politics” cause severe reactions, people think woman’s place is not in politics, but in the kitchen. Women in politics is a great phenomenon. History remembers many great female rulers. To recall from our recent past: Margaret Thatcher - politician and first female prime minister of the United Kingdom. She did a lot from Britain and the world, and contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union.
What results will female empowerment bring in Georgia? I mentioned above the various forms of subjugation of women (political, sexual, and career). We live in the 21st century Georgia, where Christian ideology that asserts that women only should take care of the home still has strong roots, especially in the regions and rural areas, which hinders development of women.
First, I want to emphasize the Muslim community. Hard work is needed to eradicate the violation of women right’s. You cannot deprive humans of all tools of self-determination, especially education.
Sexual education is also necessary to empower women. Why? Because we need to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, which lead to abortions, which, in turn, damage the woman’s body. All religions ban abortion, because it is considered to be a murder of a child. That is why all women should know how to use contraceptives, to avoid unwanted pregnancies, especially unmarried women, who encounter even more problems in this situation.
If a woman becomes successful, if she has her own income, than she won’t be forced to live with an abusive husband. In many cases, women tolerate abuse from their husbands, because they have nowhere to go, and depend financially on their husbands. In families with constant violence, children become psychologically traumatized, which can have severe consequences in adulthood.
Obviously, there are good examples as well. In many Georgian families, women are self-realized, and men support their wife’s. Such families are full with love and joy, and the children grow more educated and better mental health. Many think that a child should be with their mother round the clock, but psychologists say that the quality of time spent with one’s child matters more than quantity. Children grow, and in adulthood they encounter many problems. If a person is not accustomed to dealing with problems since childhood, and constantly depends on parents, than they will have trouble overcoming life’s challenges.
I think that self-realization of women in Georgia will eliminate discrimination and bring well-being, healthy sexual life, good education, career development, and, most importantly, stable families and raising of good generations. Families without violence and self-realized women are the key to a better future.
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