Georgia’s security sector discusses its COVID-19 pandemic response from a gender perspective

Date: Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Georgian security sector representatives participate in the online workshop - “Gender and COVID-19 - Security Sector Experience in Georgia”. Photo: UN Women
Georgian security sector representatives participate in the online workshop - "Gender and COVID-19 - Security Sector Experience in Georgia". Photo: UN Women

The 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic has altered lives and societies in profound ways, escalating with serious implications not only for peace and security but also for the rights of women and girls.

To discuss emerging challenges and experiences of Georgia’s security sector in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its gender dimension, UN Women in partnership with DCAF (the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance) organized a virtual workshop with representatives of the security sector, the Administration of the Government and the Parliament of Georgia.

During the first session, key government representatives provided a brief account of actions undertaken by their respective institutions during the pandemic. The Prime Minister’s Adviser on Human Rights and Gender Equality, Lela Akiashvili, emphasized the vital role of the security sector employees in responding to COVID-19 pandemic and expressed gratitude to the police and defence forces for their invaluable contribution in dealing with COVID-19 crisis. She also highlighted the importance of practical application of gender and equality principles in security sector through the involvement of leaders and decision-makers, as well as improvement of the understanding of equality, and support to local and international exchange of good practices. In addition, Nino Tsatsiashvili, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, reviewed the work of police and its experience in dealing with cases of gender-based violence and domestic violence during the pandemic. Maka Petriashvili from the Ministry of Defence further discussed the experiences of defence forces and their engagement in the enactment of national emergency powers, including their work at the military checkpoints.

This was followed by a facilitated discussion, where participants were divided into three working groups further exploring specific challenges experienced by their respective institutions, such as adjusting to working from home, finding coping mechanisms for the increased childcare and unpaid domestic work obligations of the sector’s female staff, and incorporating gender sensitivity and responsiveness during the operational activities, among other issues. In addition, participants also discussed priorities to be included in the new cycle of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

At the meeting, Megan Bastick, Gender and Security Fellow at DCAF, introduced the new DCAF, OSCE/ODIHR, UN Women Gender and Security Toolkit, highlighting key approaches that could be useful in the Georgian context. This toolkit, which is also available in Georgian, consists of a series of practical tools and policy guides to better promote gender equality and integrate a gender perspective into the security and justice sector.

The workshop was organized within the framework of the UN Women project “Maintaining support for the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Georgia, ensuring adaptation and responsiveness to COVID-19 to inform longer-term responses” with the financial support of the UK Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.