Companies in Georgia step up to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on women
Date: Thursday, April 30, 2020
Increasing evidence from around the world indicates that COVID-19 and the response actions are impacting men and women differently. In the midst of the pandemic in Georgia, companies that have signed on to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) are designing new initiatives and actions to support women. These initiatives take into consideration the essential role of female entrepreneurs in the country’s economy and the negative impacts that COVID-19 is likely to have both on female entrepreneurs and other women in Georgia.
One of the companies that has taken action is the Georgian Audit Company, a WEPs signee since January 2020. Soon after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Georgia in February, the company publicly announced that to support female entrepreneurs, it is offering them free-of-cost basic accounting and tax filing services. Twenty-three women signed up for and received the services in March. The company’s plans do not end there: “We are also ready to train several women in accounting, with the prospect of future employment,” says Tea Aduashvili, Director of the Georgian Audit Company.
The financial services company MBC also decided to support female entrepreneurship in the COVID-19 context but through procurement. The company purchased 300 face masks from a female entrepreneur (also supported by UN Women) for their employees. “Women entrepreneurs enhance household living standards, contributing to the development of the country and the whole economy…Empowering women is part of our social responsibility, and we are delighted to support women entrepreneurs in reaching this goal,” says the company’s CEO, Gia Petriashvili.
These types of support measures are much needed. Early evidence from Georgia indicates that women and men business owners may be differently impacted by COVID-19: A survey conducted by the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry with more than 600 business representatives in March 2020 revealed that women respondents were 24 per cent more likely than men to dismiss employees.
COVID-19 is also impacting women beyond their finances: Emerging data from various countries show that violence against women and girls has intensified. With the understanding that domestic violence is likely to increase in Georgia because of the lockdown, a new WEPs signee, TV channel Mtavari, produced a public service announcement on domestic violence. Aired widely during prime time on TV and shared further via social media, the announcement promotes zero tolerance for domestic violence and informs victims/survivors about the available services in the country.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, UN Women has supported WEPs companies in Georgia in taking steps towards mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on women. This is done through providing information on the pandemic’s gender-differentiated impacts, sharing recommendations and case studies of company practices and disseminating practical tools, such as online training materials, for promoting gender equality in the workplace. On 30 April, 38 business representatives convened online to share their achievements and plans for the next steps. The work is part of UN Women’s project “A Joint Action for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Georgia” funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.