Debate begins about preventing violence against women in politics and elections
Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
“Violence against women is an underlying factor for women’s low political participation,” stressed UN Resident Coordinator Sabine Machl at the 4 March meeting dedicated to the prevention of violence against women in politics and elections.
The meeting was organized by the UN Gender Theme Group with the support of the Government of Sweden and the participation of representatives from the legislative and executive branches, the Public Defender’s Office, the diplomatic corps, political parties and civil society. The key goal of the meeting was to raise awareness and prevent violence against women in politics and elections.
“Women’s participation in Georgian politics is extremely low, and the legislature is ready to take special measures to improve this situation as well as to prevent and respond to the instances of gender-based violence as the two are interlinked,” underlined Kakha Kuchava, Vice-Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia. Ekaterina Skhiladze, Deputy Public Defender of Georgia, further observed that “politicians are obliged to demonstrate greater patience, but no one is obliged to tolerate sexism, discrimination and harassment, be it a politician or a voter.”
The Ambassadors of the European Union, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States and the Heads of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Council of Europe all addressed the audience, sending a unifying message of zero tolerance for violence against women in general and in politics and elections in particular. Tamar Zhvania, Chair of the Central Election Commission of Georgia, further explained the forms of such violence and the fact that no one is immune from experiencing it, be it voters, candidates, election administrators, observers or media representatives covering electoral processes. Also among the speakers were Lela Akiashvili, Assistant to the Prime Minister on Human Rights and Gender Equality Issues; Irma Inashvili, Member of Parliament from the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia; Nino Tsilosani, Member of Parliament from the Georgian Dream party; Tinatin Bokuchava, Member of Parliament from the United National Movement; and Laura Thornton, NDI Resident Director in Georgia.
At the meeting, the members of political parties were encouraged to sign a statement on the prevention of violence against women in politics and elections. The document, on the one hand, recognizes the humiliating and excluding effects of such violence on women and, on the other, encourages parties to adopt a policy of zero tolerance to guarantee women’s free and equal participation in political life. It is notable that two political parties - the European Democrats and United Georgia - signed the statement on the spot.