In the words of Giga Chikadze: “Gender does not matter. If you wish to do something, give it a try and do it”
Date: Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Giga Chikadze, professional MMA fighter and winner of the World and European championship titles, has been involved in the UN Women campaign Sportsmen Unite to End Violence against Women in Georgia for years. He has regularly visited the regions of Georgia, meeting with local boys to talk about the inadmissibility of violence against women. Giga has also engaged his friends from abroad in this campaign and has supported important sporting events, such as the 2014 Kickboxing World Championship in Tbilisi, that were dedicated to raising awareness about violence against women. Giga continues to uphold these values, and together with his 9-year-old daughter Nita, he tries to shatter gender stereotypes.
I first heard about the campaign on ending violence against women from rugby players Nono Andghuladze and Lekso Gugava. At that time, they were actively involved in a variety of UN Women initiatives. The public gives special importance to the words and actions of successful sportsmen, who in turn can play a significant role in advocating for positive change. I thought that I, as one of them, should take my share of the responsibility and use my reputation to combat violence, and not only live by these values but also promote them.
I started visiting Georgia’s regions with Nono and Lekso. We met high school students and spoke with them, trying to assist them in forming sound opinions. For sure, the teenagers found the opinions of sportsmen very important. However, these talks were not always simple. I remember having difficult talks with boys in several villages. The boys made it clear that they would not allow women to do much. Hearing this opinion, I kept thinking about my little girl Nita. I asked myself, “What will Nita’s life be like if she is restricted and not allowed to do certain things?”
It was at that time when I realized that supporting and empowering girls was equally important, so I tried to help Nita be strong and set an example for others as well. I decided to assist her in overcoming those obstacles that girls face just because they are girls.
Nita is 9 years old now. We have been living in Los Angeles for the past five years. I am always engaged in her daily life and try to support her in every way. Several months ago, when she returned home from school one day, Nita told me that she wanted to take kickboxing classes. She also asked me, “Since combat sports are mainly for boys, won’t I be laughed at?” I responded, “If you like it and want to do it, you should take classes and not pay attention to what other people will say.” Afterwards, I took her to a beginners’ class at my gym. Several weeks later, Nita came to the class with her girl classmates. Now 12 of her friends are trained in various combat sports.
This situation showed me even more clearly the importance of a father’s support when girls wish to go against the stereotypes. That is the moment when we should support them and tell them, “Gender does not matter. If you wish to do something, give it a try and do it.”