Young people against violence


Training participants are discussing the group work. Photo: Mariam Bezarashvili
Training participants are discussing the 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, 16-year-old from Supsa village in Guria region, naming the gender stereotypes that she and her friends encounter daily. “Men should be the bread-winners, women should look after the family."

Lana is in Lanchkhuti with her twin-sister Ana 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 related issues.

The training is one of many run by “Dia”, the Georgian Girl Scout Association under a project called "Ending Violence against Women and Girls in Georgia", supported by the European Union, the United Nations 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,” says Anna. “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 of the rest of the participants is similar: girls want to know how to react quickly and appropriately to violence. They also want to play 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, that also means having the courage to speak up and act.

"Often, people know that a woman is a victim of violence, but they do nothing,” she says. “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 will be good if we, as young people, get involved in this struggle with new ideas.”

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