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Gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right. Women are entitled to live in dignity and in freedom from want and from fear. Empowering women is also an indispensable tool for advancing development and reducing poverty.

Empowered women contribute to the health and productivity of whole families and communities and to improved prospects for the next generation.

Still, despite solid evidence demonstrating the centrality of women’s empowerment to reducing poverty, promoting development and addressing the world’s most urgent challenges, gender equality remains an unfulfilled promise.

Yet discrimination against women and girls - including gender-based violence, economic discrimination, reproductive health inequities, and harmful traditional practices - remains the most pervasive and persistent form of inequality. Women and girls bear enormous hardship during and after humanitarian emergencies, especially armed conflicts.

For more than 30 years, the Fund has been in the forefront of advocating for women, promoting legal and policy reforms and gender-sensitive data collection, and supporting projects that improve women's health and expand their choices in life.

UNFPA in Georgia has been supporting several priorities for advancing gender equality:

  • Advocacy and policy dialogue for integrating gender equality and reproductive rights priorities in state policies and action plans;
  • Strengthening national human rights institution for integrating reproductive rights into the national Human rights monitoring framework
  • Strengthening multi-secotal response to gender based violence
  • Strengthening prevention of early/child marriage, son preference and Female Genital mutilation (FGM) harmful practices;
  • Strengtening capacity of civisl society organizations to advance gender equality and reproductive rights, including prevention of gender-based violence and harmful practices 


Strengthening of Multi Sectoral Response to Gender based violence

Responding to the crucial need of strengthening the National Referral Mechanism on DV/VAW and strengthening multi-sectoral response to GBV, UNFPA has been supporting enhancing health system response to Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence using and adapting the  UNFPA Regional Multi Sectoral Response to GBV concept that guides the inter-institutional and multi-disciplinary intervention and referral actions by establishing a common methodological framework for the relevant actors.

UNFPA support includes development, piloting and evaluating the Standard Operating Procedures for health workers, adapting a regional training module and training health professionals, support in developing/updating guidelines and protocols for clinical management of rape.


Prevention of the Harmful Practice of Early/child Marriage

The harmful practice of early/child marriage is widespread in Georgia. Early/child marriage represents a formal or informal relationship between two people of whom at least one is under 18. Early/child marriage is considered to be a human rights’ violation as minors cannot give a well-thought-out consent to marriage.

The present data shows that 14 per cent of females residing in Georgia enter into marriage before they are 18 years old. However, the data is not accurate as early/chil marriages are often not officially registered.

Early/child marriage is a phenomenon to be viewed from the gender perspective – it impacts boys and girls differently. Generally, the number of boys entering into child/early marriages is rather low compared to girls. Early/child marriage brings serious complications for girls, frequently implying their social isolation, depriving them of rights and hindering their efforts to finish school. Pregnancy and childbirth during adolescence puts the lives of mothers and babies at risk. The underlying causes of early/child marriages are complex and therefore require taking diverse actions. To improve the situation steps need to be taken at the policy and legislative levels as well as within the community of adolescents with an aim to change their attitudes.

From 2017, following the legislative amendments, marriage up to the age of 18 has been prohibited with no exceptions.

As a result of advocacy by the UNFPA the issue of early/child marriage was included into the national priorities of human rights and gender equality. The UNFPA provides support to:

  • Coordination, policy dialogue, developing and integrating recommendations into the National Action Plan for human rights and gender equality;
  • Collection of reliable data on the issue of early/child marriage;
  • Awareness-raising among youth and adolescents, their parents and communities with the purpose of changing their tolerant attitude towards early/ child marriage.
  • Coordination with the inter-religious council to eliminate the harmful practice of early/child marriage.


Prevention of son preference and undervaluing of girls

Son preference and undervaluing of girls, that causes Gender Biased Sex Selection is still a widespread problem in Georgia.  Due to such harmful practice more boys are born in Georgia while the number of girls tends to decrease. In order to initiate an evidence-based public discussion and study the trends, UNFPA carried out a survey in 2014 which made apparent that Gender Biased Sex Selection is closely related to the cultural and religious specifics as well as special aspects of life in towns and rural areas. In this respect, some critical factors may be observed, including prioritization of boys in the families.

According to statistics, if a family choses to have one child, 46% of the citizens prefer the child to be a boy, the gender is unimportant for 45 per cent and just 9 per cent would like to have a baby girl. Presently the ratio of newborn baby girls to baby boys in Georgia is 100 to 110 on average, while the maximum normal biological level of sex ratio at birth can be 100/106. The skewed sex ratio considerably increases in case of third child or more and reaches 100/140. The calculations established that due to such practice about 25,000 girls had not been born in Georgia from 1990 to 2010.

The practice of gender biased sex selection negatively affects the country’s demographic situation and security. The result of this practice in long run is escalation of violence, economic regress and falling birth rates. For the purpose of stopping this harmful practice it is of paramount importance to first of all acknowledge the problem and start public discussion in order to change the social standards and behaviors leading to the gender biased sex selection.

Most probably, the main source of change will be the transformation of cultural attitudes resulting in a decline in son preference. The more quickly these transformations in gender discriminatory attitudes take place, the smaller the overall consequences of sex imbalances at birth on Georgia's future demographic structures will be.

data indicate that Georgia is currently moving away from this imbalance so it is the right time to think of ways in which this trend can be encouraged.

UNFPA programme supports:

  • Expanding the existing knowledge base on sex ratio imbalance through demographic, socio-cultural, and policy research
  • Strengthening national capacity for advocacy, development, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes to address sex selection;
  • Raising public awareness on this harmful practice, with focus on those regions, where the sex balance is skewed the most.


Engaging men and boys

Gender equality cannot be achieved without the involvement of men and boys. But change is slowly taking place, and men are increasingly working alongside women to support gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

UNFPA/Georgia since 2010 has been working with men and boys to advance gender equality – with benefits for all. These projects, including the trainings “Men Talking to Men”, are encouraging men and boys to abandon harmful stereotypes, embrace respectful, healthy relationships, and support the human rights of all people, everywhere.

MenCare campaign in Georgia was launched by UNFPA in partnership with the NGO We Care in July, 2016 within the framework of the United Nations Joint Programme for Gender Equality. The success of the campaign is largely determined by the fact, that is has been designed based on evidences and considering socio-cultural context of Georgia.

The findings of the research Men and Gender Relations in Georgia conducted with UNFPA support in 2013 using IMAGES methodology, confirm that existing stereotypes and established clichés prevent men from taking responsibility and being caring fathers, husbands, partners and family members. It also suggests existence of strong social standards;

MenCare Campaign aims at promoting men’s involvement as equitable, nonviolent fathers and caregivers in order to achieve better health and family well-being and to encourage men to support gender equality and thus contribute to the harmonious development of the society. The MenCare campaign is open to all men, who share the idea and principles of the Campaign.

UNFPA Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office in joint efforts with Promundo and Global MenEngage Alliance supported establishment of the regional platform called the EECA MenEngage Platform. EECA MenEngage Platform is an alliance comprising of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and UN partners across 17 countries in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region including Georgia. The EECA MenEngage Platform members work collectively and individually to generate, disseminate and exchange knowledge and information on engaging men and boys in gender equality.