UN Session in the Parliament of Georgia


<a href="http://www.georgiatoday.ge/">Georgia Today</a>, Friday, June 23, 2006,#311</p> <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">UN Session in theParliament of Georgia</span></p> <p>by Nina Akhmeteli</p> <p>"The women participation in politics at all levels should increase by 3 percent.” That was the decision made at the Model UN Conference held at the Parliament building on June 18.</p> <p>The Conference, where more than thirty youths from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia participated, was organized by the United Nation Association of Georgia within the framework of the United Nations Development Program "Gender and Politics in South Caucasus,” which is implemented in cooperation with the Parliament of Georgia with the support of the Sweden International Development Agency (SIDA).</p> <p>The three year Gender and Politics Program in the South Caucasus is mainly focused on creating legislation and an institutional base for achieving gender equality in Georgia. However, according to Nino Lagvilava, Project Coordinator of the Gender and Politics Program in Southern Caucasus, there are also other activities within the project, the objective of which is to raise public awareness in gender issues.</p> <p>"Gender equality can not be achieved or provided by force. Democracy means participation, and we try to develop the potential and increase the activeness of women in social life through art and business projects. On the other hand the activities for raising public awareness on this issue are the basis for achieving gender equality in the country. Today’s seminar is very important because for the first time there is regional participation of youth discussing gender issues. So it is small but very essential part of our project to raise the gender culture in youth,” said Lagvilava.</p> <p>The agenda of the conference was the issue which is more or less problematic in all three countries of the Caucasus region as well as in all post Soviet countries-gender equality and female participation in politics. The rate of the women in Parliament in Georgia is only 10%, and in spite of some strong figures in the Georgian political arena and the fact that most students in the high schools and universities in Georgia are female, businesswomen or women in political system are still exceptions in Georgia. Most women are unable to make a career due to the mentality, traditions and even the attitude towards them in the highest governmental institutions and businesses.</p> <p>"Gender is quite an amazing, problematic and important issue. The majority of people facing problems every day do not know that it is because of gender inequality. To give the idea of gender equality and to make it easy and understandable for youth- this is the way to make our society more gender sensitive in the future,” said Nune Harutyunyan, the Project Coordinator of the Gender and Politics Program in Southern Caucasus from the Armenian side.</p> <p>Keti Makharashvili, Member of Parliament and Coordinator of the Parliamentary Gender Equality Advisory Council, mentioned that gender equality is not a top priority for any of the countries of Caucasus region. The participation of youth in such discussions and model games will raise the awareness of them of gender issues as well as other democratic values.</p> <p>The Model UN has proved to be the most effective tool to promote the UN among youth. Participants from Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan were divided into twelve teams representing the UN member states at the General Assembly. The youth had to learn the traditions, cultures, and problems regarding gender balance in each country and to elaborate the position of "their states” about the implementation of the gender-balanced quota system among political parties and in the executive government. The agenda was turned into a hot discussion after the "representatives of each country introduced the steps made for developing gender policy in ‘their countries’ and expressed the position of each state related to the issue. At the end of the session the representatives voted and adopted the joint resolution.</p> <p>In spite of this, there were several model sessions organized by UNAG. The UN Model Session was the first ever forum related to gender issues brought together the youth from the whole Caucasus region participated.</p> <p>"The youth and graduates are able to use the theoretical skills and try their selves in the role of representatives of UN Member states. The experienced gained while playing the game helps them to understand the instruments of multilateral diplomacy directly and have fun at the same time. For us especially important and valuable is the regional participation. There are three members in one team from each country and they have to agree and represent one country so they learn cooperate with each other,” said Sandro Vashakidze, Youth and Education Programs Director at United Nations Association of Georgia.</p> <p>Tamar Nibladze participated in UNAG Conference for the second time. This time she was acting for the Russia Federation in the UN Assembly.</p> <p>"Most of us will be diplomats in the future, and for us this experience is very useful and valuable. That is why it is very important is that youth from Armenia and Azerbaijan are participating in today’s conference. On the other hand, I think that there is clear evidence of the existence problems related to gender equality, because the majority in Georgia still thinks of a woman only as mother and wife. And I am definitely for adoption quota system in our country,” said Nibladze.</p> <p>In spite of the fact that all participants expressed hope that the number of women will increase in politics, there were disagreements about adopting quotas in the legislation body.</p> <p>"If we appeal to statistics, the number of women is increasing inside the political system. The quotas limit the participation of women in the political life of the country. I think that women have great potential and are strong enough, so there is no need to create any borders for their participation,” said Sabir Aslanov, Azerbaijan Group Leader. Ararat Mirzoyan from Armenia represented Saudi Arabia. He, as a real ‘Arabian,’ announced that it is too early to implement any quota in the country where women still fight for the right to show their faces.</p> <p>"The position I expressed is not my personal opinion, as for me I would implement any quotas for women with great pleasure. But I represented Saudi Arabia and had to speak as the representative of this country,” said Mirzoyan.</p> <p>Most of the participants, who hope to be future diplomats, were female and maybe in several years we will have to think about adopting a quota system in our countries to increase the number of men in the political arena to achieve a gender-balanced system.