Georgian rugby players engage Samoan boys in the fight against violence against women

Date: Thursday, June 9, 2016

“Any violence, especially violence against women and girls, is unacceptable. For us, the rugby players, fighting violence is an inherent duty and we hope that you too will join us. ” With these words, the veteran rugby player and UN Women Georgia’s Consultant on Sport and Youth Issues, Nodar Andguladze, addressed the students and academic personnel of Avele College in Samoa.

Meeting with Avele College students; Photo: UN Women
The Georgian National Rugby Team, known as the “Lelos”, visited Samoa for the Oceania Tournament test matches in June 2016. Rugby is loved by everyone in Samoa, where rugby players are highly respected.

The UN Women Country Office in Samoa invited Nodar and three members of the Lelos – Sandro Todua, Merab Kvirikashvili and Laska Khmaladze – to speak at Avele College about their campaign to end violence in Georgia, especially violence against women and girls. The college has recently faced severe problems related to violence. Conflictsand violent behaviour have been frequent occurrences there, with some instances requiring law enforcement to engage. That is why the local UN Women office targeted this specific college for the meeting with the rugby players.

Meeting with Avele College students; Photo: UN Women
“This has been an excellent event,” one college student remarked after the meeting. “Violence is a well-known problem for the students of Avele. The rugby players have talked to us about violence generally, and also about domestic violence and its consequences. I hope that this problem will soon be resolved,both inside and outside of our school. Obviously, boys and men have a significant role to play to stop it.”

Georgian rugby players have a long-standing partnership with UN Women in the framework of the UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality (funded by the Government of Sweden and implemented by UNDP, UN Women and UNFPA). This cooperation is aimed at increasing men’s engagement in the fight against violence against women and girls. The Lelos have devoted several international matches to this cause under the aegis of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE To End Violence Against Women Campaign. In 2014, they joined UN Women’s solidarity movement for gender equality, known as HeForShe. In addition, the Lelos travel throughout Georgia to meet with local men and boys and speak to them about the inadmissibility of violence against women and girls.