Women in the Defence Forces are defying stereotypes
UN Women, in partnership with the Ministry of Defence of Georgia, has been actively working on gender mainstreaming in the ministry for more than a decade. This was the very purpose of the publication “Women in Service to Georgia”, prepared by UN Women in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence. The brochure showcases the profiles of 13 women in active duty, featuring their stories of courage, bravery, struggle and dedication. These examples clearly demonstrate the significant contributions of women in the advancement of the Georgian Defence Forces. Among them are Private Ana Lekveishvili, a machine gunner, and Sergeant Ekaterine Marikashvili, a senior deminer.
“Yes, women are strong enough to serve in the army” – Ana Lekveishvili, Private, Machine gunner
After graduating from Akaki Tsereteli State University’s Faculty of AgroFood Technology and Expertise in Kutaisi, Ana Lekveishvili then successfully completed the professional programmes required to work in this field. But in 2021, she decided to change her career path and joined the Georgian Defence Forces.
At first glance, though, Ana’s decision actually came as no surprise. Growing up in a military family, she developed a love and respect for the army from early childhood. “In truth, I always dreamed of this career,” Ana explains. “At one point, I finally decided to go for it—to test myself in a completely different field and prove that, yes, women are strong enough to serve in the army.” Although her parents were already quite familiar with military life, Ana’s decision was still difficult for them to accept.
“They did not want their little girl in the army,” she says. “Here and there, I would hear the opinion that a woman’s place is not in the military, but today everything is different. My family is very proud of me and gives me tremendous encouragement to keep going and to advance in my career.”
Today, 24-year-old Ana is working in the position of the 1st fire count number of the 152mm “Msta-B” of the 51st Artillery Battalion of the 5th Artillery Brigade. Her job is to work with the artillery system and participate in both theoretical and practical training exercises. Ana does a difficult job but proves to herself every day that she is more capable than she thinks.
“Serving my country, Georgia, is a great honour for me,” she says. “I will definitely become an officer and will continue my career advancement in this capacity.”
“Bravery and endurance shouldn’t be attributed to gender” - Ekaterine Marikashvili, Sergeant, Senior deminer
Ekaterine Marikashvili, 48, serves as a Senior Deminer of the 3rd Light Platoon of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Company of the Eastern Command Military-Engineering Battalion. Sergeant Marikashvili’s career choice was dictated by the situation in Georgia in the 1990s, the war in Abkhazia and the severe civil strife. “It was then that I first developed a strong wish to contribute to the well-being of my homeland,” she recalls.
Ekaterine’s job is to inspect demined areas and monitor quality. She has to constantly come into contact with hazardous munitions, which is one of the most difficult operations. “I decided to serve in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company to be able to do combat missions for my homeland even during peacetime,” says Sergeant Marikashvili, who is particularly proud of her choice.
Ekaterine’s profession has always been highly respected and positively received by the public, although she has often heard gender stereotypes within the military: “There is less trust in women around the world today, which results in fewer opportunities for their career advancement. But this is undoubtedly a mistake, as bravery and endurance shouldn’t be attributed to gender.” And truly, her everyday devoted work serves as the best confirmation of her words.
The publication “Women in Service to Georgia” was prepared within the framework of the UN Women project “Accelerating Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Georgia”, generously funded by the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund of the UK Government and the UK Ministry of Defence.