Evaluation of the Gender Equality Policies at the Local Level

News | Research | Open Government | Analysis 18 April 2022

Ensuring equal rights and opportunities between women and men is of fundamental importance in the process of building democracy. Achieving gender equality and empowering women requires fundamental change at both the national and local levels.


In order to achieve gender equality, Georgia has taken notable steps both in terms of regulating the legal environment and through the introduction and implementation of relevant instruments in the political, economic, social, and cultural aspects. Additionally, in order to engage in global discourse, Georgia has joined important international mechanisms for the protection of women and children's rights. Among them, the ratification of the Convention on the Prevention and Suppression of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence ("Istanbul Convention") of the Council of Europe in 2017 should be highlighted. Local governments have also expressed their willingness to participate in the global discourse on gender equality. For example, five Georgian municipalities1 joined the "European Charter on Equality of Women and Men in Local Life"2 in 2019, which establishes important principles in the context of achieving gender equality at the local level. Currently, more than 20 municipalities of Georgia have signed the charter. The gender council of Zugdidi municipality also approved the "roadmap" for localization of the national action plan in Zugdidi municipality within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 13253 "Women, Peace, and Security".


In 2017, as part of constitutional reform, a new entry appeared in the Constitution of Georgia to ensure the essential equality of men and women and to eliminate inequality,4 with the entry clearly emphasizing the state's obligation to introduce and implement special laws, policies, and programs to ensure equal opportunities for women.5 The Law of Georgia on Gender Equality defines the legal mechanisms for achieving equality between men and women in relevant spheres of public life.6 The law also establishes the basic guarantees for ensuring equal rights, freedoms, and opportunities defined by the Constitution of Georgia.


Elimination of systemic gender discrimination at the country level is unthinkable without introducing the principles of equality in local self-government bodies and creating the corresponding legal framework. Municipal budgets, socio-economic development priorities, and municipal programs and plans should be developed in such a way as to exclude any form of discrimination. In addition, it is important that all of the above is based on inclusive and gender-sensitive approaches.


It is also worth noting the important changes that have taken place in Georgia in recent years in this regard. Specifically, ensuring equal participation of women and men in the process of decentralization and self-government was declared as one of the main principles in the decentralization strategy. In addition, ensuring gender equality at all levels of governance is echoed by the 5th goal of the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which assigns an important role to local governments in the process of empowering women and girls, which, in the nationalization process, was defined as follows in the tasks adapted to the Georgian context: reducing all forms of discrimination against all women and girls in all places; Ensuring equal opportunities for women's full and effective participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life; Ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and reproductive rights.


According to the "Local Self-Government Code" of the Organic Law of Georgia, a municipality is authorized to implement measures to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and/or domestic violence, protect and assist victims of violence against women and/or domestic violence.7 As such, self-governing units can become important contributors to the process of ensuring gender equality in the country when initiating various programs/projects or developing priority documents.


In order to take into account the issues of gender inequality in the process of supporting decentralization, an amendment was introduced to the Law on Gender Equality in 2016, according to which municipal councils were instructed to create municipal gender equality councils, whose composition, status, functions, and powers are determined by the regulations of the municipal council and the statute of the municipal gender equality council as approved by the relevant municipal council. In addition, according to the law, in order to study the issues of gender equality in the municipality, to plan the activities to be implemented, and to coordinate relevant measures, the mayor of the municipality designates a civil servant in the relevant city hall who will be responsible for gender equality issues.


Main Findings:


- Among the 54 municipalities that provided IDFI with some information on the activities of their respective gender councils, only 18 had developed a 2021 gender equality action plan.


- Only 10 municipal gender councils submitted a report to city councils on their activities in 2020 and the state of gender equality in the territory of the municipality.


- The reports prepared by a majority of gender councils do not have the appropriate structure, and in terms of content, the envisaged activities do not match those outlined in the action plans.


- Among 64 municipalities, the gender equality promotion program/sub-program was written into the 2022 budget project in 13 of them.


- In a majority of cases, the budget for the implementation of the activities envisaged in the action plan was not approved separately. The activities planned by gender councils, both administrative costs and funds for specific structural units, are financed according to the issue, which are broken down in different articles of the budget.


- In 2020-2021, no gender council sessions were held in the cases of Borjomi, Dedoplistskaro, Zestafoni, Abashi, Kvareli, Sachkheri, Chiaturi, Khelvachauri, Khobi, Tianeti, and Martvili. In addition, during the same period, the session was held only once in the case of 6 municipalities.


- Within the scope of the authority of the gender councils, no participation in trainings, development of a new action plan, or preparation of reports on the implementation of the action plan took place in 12 municipalities of Georgia, which indicates that the Gender Councils exist only as a formality.


- A gender audit according to the directions of activities of the municipal bodies was carried out only in the Aspindza municipality.


- According to the information provided to IDFI by municipalities, gender needs research was conducted only in the Samtredia, Kedi, Ozurgeti, and Akhaltsikhe municipalities. In the case of other municipalities, the lack of relevant qualifications of civil servants was identified as the main hindering factor in conducting gender needs research.


- The gender councils operating at the local level cannot ensure the development of action plans and programs based on needs studies, and are mainly limited to conducting one-time campaigns and providing general assistance.


- Due to limited budget and lack of qualification of civil servants, municipalities are deprived of the opportunity to conduct needs studies, based on which they would be able to further develop action plans and determine priority directions.


- Among the activities envisaged by action plans, in many cases, the long-term gender equality strategy of a municipality, as well as the development of a monitoring and evaluation system of the measures implemented to ensure gender equality, cannot be implemented, which is again related to the lack of qualifications of the relevant civil servants or council members.


- Most of the municipal action plans provided for a separate section on the official website and periodic updating of information on the gender council. In most cases, municipalities do not have a dedicated council section, and no action plans, action plan implementation reports, or council meeting minutes are being published.


Conclusion and Recommendations


The analysis of the activities of the municipal gender councils reveals that, despite the activities carried out in recent years, the main goals determined during the creation of the councils have not been achieved up to this point. Gender councils operating at the local level are not able to ensure the determination of the needs of local women. Consequently, the development of action plans and programs is not based on relevant evidence and research. In order to ensure gender equality, municipalities are mainly limited to implementing measures aimed at raising awareness, as well as providing one-time campaigns and assistance. In addition, due to the lacking budget and the absence of relevant qualifications among civil servants, the municipal gender councils cannot fulfill the obligations imposed by the gender equality action plan.


It is important to note that in many cases, municipal councils cannot provide evidence-based budget advocacy within their powers, which is subsequently reflected in the absence of programs/sub-programs aimed at gender equality in the budget draft.


Based on the analysis, the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information developed the following recommendations for the effective work of gender councils at the local level:


- Increase the exchange/sharing of information on gender issues between the central and local governments systematically in order to strengthen cooperation.


- Municipalities should prioritize the collection of basic gender data and develop the capacity of those responsible for the collection and management of this data.


- Implementation of gender analysis of the budget should be a priority for the municipality. Based on the analysis, consideration of gender budgeting components in the next year's budget should be done.


- Gender aspects should be taken into account at all stages of the budget cycle; when determining needs, women should be involved to a high degree.


- Develop action plans and programs based on local needs research, promote women's issues in priority/policy documents of municipalities.


- Ensure the availability of information in terms of gender, which means displaying the gender equality council section on the official website of the municipality and periodically updating the information available there.




1.  Ozurgeti, Lagodekhi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, and Akhmeta

2. "European Charter for Equality between Women and Men in Local Life" (2006). European Council of Municipalities and Regions (CEMR). Available at: https://bit.ly/3DpNTV6

3.   UN Resolution on the Importance of Women's Participation and Gender Mainstreaming in Peace Negotiations, Humanitarian Response Planning, Peacekeeping Operations, Post-Conflict Peacekeeping and Governance

4.  Constitution of Georgia, Article 11

5.  Essential gender equality is guaranteed by the new constitution of Georgia (2018). United Nations Women's Organization. Available at: https://bit.ly/3NkpPri

6.  Law of Georgia “On Gender Equality”

7.   Organic Law of Georgia Code of Local Self-Government” Article 16, Part 4.


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The research was prepared by Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) with the financial support of the global philanthropic organization, Luminate. The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) is responsible for the content of this document. Views expressed in therein do not reflect the position of Luminate.

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