Young people against violence


Training participants discussing their group work. Photo: Mariam Bezarashvili
Training participants discussing their group work. Photo: Mariam Bezarashvili

“A girl can’t go out after 21:00, but a boy can. Girls can’t do certain jobs. Boys inherit their parents’ houses,” says Lana Goguadze, a 16-year-old from Supsa village in Guria, while underscoring the gender stereotypes that she and her friends encounter on a daily basis. “Men should be the breadwinners, women should look after the family.”

Lana is in Lanchkhuti with her twin sister, Anna, for a Girl Scouts meeting – where up to 25 girls are attending an interactive training on sexual harassment and bullying, early and forced marriages, domestic violence, and interrelated issues.

The training is one of many run by Dia, the Georgian Girl Scout Association, under the “Ending Violence Against Women and Girls in Georgia” project, supported by the European Union, UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund. By the end of the year, Dia will have trained 400 girls and 200 boys.

So far, 17 Girl Scout Leaders have been trained as translators, producing a Georgian-language version of “Voices Against Violence”, a training manual put together by UN Women and the World Girl Scouts and Girl Guides Association, which combines a variety of activities and is used for non-formal education in many countries.

Lana and Anna are keen to learn more. “Once a peer of mine experienced a case of violence,” Anna stated. “I remember her telling me her story, and I was so shocked that I could hardly speak. I did not know what to do, what to say or how to help her. I want to strengthen myself through this training so that I can support others.”

The motivation for the remaining participants remained similar: girls want to know how to react quickly and appropriately to violence. They also want a role to play in creating an environment free of violence.

“Cyberbullying is widespread today. I think girls should learn their rights from an early age and understand the consequences of violence,” says 16-year-old Lizzie Melua.

For 17-year-old Lia Rokva, this also means having the courage to speak up and to act.

“Often, people know that a woman is a victim of violence, but they do nothing,” she reveals. “They say it isn’t their business. But then, when the same woman is killed, they grieve. I get very angry at such times: couldn’t they have acted in the first place? It would be good if we, as young people, get involved in this struggle with new ideas.”

Despite the various challenges, the meeting ended on an optimistic note – with the girls determined to initiate change, to create an environment free of violence, and with other young people, to become a generation of equality.