Georgia’s new constitution guarantees substantive gender equality
As of January 2018, new amendments introduced to the Constitution of Georgia entered into force. In addition to gradually transforming the country into a classic parliamentary system, the amendments enshrine new constitutional guarantees for substantive gender equality.
Article 11 reads: “State shall ensure equal rights and opportunities for men and women. State shall implement special measures to ensure substantive equality between men and women and to eliminate inequality.” The discourse of the new equality article trades earlier formal equality wording for substantive equality that shifts the emphasis towards combating structural inequalities and mandating the State to establish and implement special laws, policies and programmes to ensure that women enjoy equality of opportunities as well as results.
The amendment was introduced as a direct result of lobbying efforts by civil society organizations and women’s groups, spearheaded by the Task Force on Women’s Political Participation - an umbrella network of organizations promoting women’s participation in decision-making processes and actively working under the auspices of the Gender Theme Group chaired by UN Women.
“In the process of introducing constitutional guarantees on gender equality and women’s rights, women’s advocates were given the opportunity to engage via petitions, consultations and advocacy meetings with lawmakers throughout 2017,” commented Ms. Tamar Chugoshvili, First Vice-Speaker of the Parliament and Chair of the Parliamentary Gender Equality Council. “For us, efforts made by the civil society organizations and women’s groups, spearheaded by the Task Force on Women’s Political Participation, have been influential in the process of advocating for this amendment.”
In a joint effort to support women’s organizations, UN Women provided strategic inputs to the process via knowledge-sharing on integrating gender into constitution-making in other countries, as well as providing technical inputs in drafting article 11. UNDP and NDI provided support by brokering spaces for advocacy with the decision makers, namely the Constitutional Review Commission and the Parliamentary Gender Equality Council, the latter serving as a key ally in pushing for the adopted wording within the Parliament.