On-site Meetings in Samegrelo-Upper Svaneti Region Concerning Women’s Rights02 09 2013
On August 22-24, 2013 representatives of the Office of Public Defender of Georgia travelled to Samgrelo-Upper Svaneti Region with an official visit. The aim of the visit was to examine situation of gender equality and women’s rights, in general, in the region. Meetings were held in Zugdidi and Mestia, as well as adjacent villages. “This is not a onetime visit. We wish to closely cooperate under the capacity of Public Defender’s mandate”- declared Ms. Ana Arganashvili when addressing the representatives of civil society at the meeting.
Elimination of violence against women, engagement of women in local politics and budget creation, protection from domestic violence, right to reproductive health, internally displaced women or women victim to conflict, elderly women and women drug addicts, - this is only a part of the topics that were carefully discussed at the meeting.
“There are no reproductive health services in the village. To receive medical consultation and examination we need to travel about 18kms, which means additional financial burden. Often we are unable to pay for medical services and medication, as a result the illness becomes more severe” – declared an internally displaced woman, residing in village Orsantia near the administrative border of Abkhazia.
At the meetings special attention was paid to realization of civil and political rights of women, increase of participation of women in local self-government elections and necessity of enforcement of positive measures by the state in order to eliminate long-term practice of discrimination in this filed.
Both in Samegrelo and Upper Svaneti, representatives of Public Defender’s office sought out and met with elderly women residing in villages, who are unable to receive sufficient medical and social services, due to limited state service. It is evident that neglect and isolation present a problem, owning to the fact that community-based services do not exist.
Cooperation with the local NGOs and women’s initiative groups was defined as one of the key priorities. Information was shared and strategic plan of future cooperation was drawn up. NGOs highlighted the need for the Public Defender’s Office to be more actively involved in the field of women’s rights, through region specific issues. Including conduct of research and monitoring to discover problems in regards to women’s political engagement.
Gender Equality Department will study the problems raised by the civil society and leader women within three days and will take adequate measures in the authority of Public Defender.
The Gender Equality Department within the Public Defender’s Office was founded in May, 2013 and since then has been actively working on women’s rights issues, as well as issues of discrimination based on sexual orientation and general identity and other cases of violation of rights.
The given visits were made possible with financial support from United Nations Development Programme and information support from UN Women.