NALAG Vice President - Tamar Taliashvili delivered the speech at the conference on Equality Diversity and Inclusion, hosted by Bilbao.
Let me tell you how honored I am to speak to you at this conference. It’s my pleasure to represent Georgian delegation at CEMR. I am elected member of Tbilisi City Assembly, head of the committee and Vice president of NALAG the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia. I am joined here with my dear colleagues, elected members of municipalities of different regions of Georgia. We jointly would like to emphasize that the long-term friendship and efficient cooperation with the countries of Council of Europe in the process of ensuring equality and diversity has been and continues to be of an utmost value for Georgia.
Gender equality is one of the top priorities for national and local governments in my country. We consider the issues of equality, diversity and inclusion to be the part of national human rights policies, as well as one of influential factors for Georgia’s sustainable economic growth.
In recent years, Georgia has shown significant progress in this regard. In parallel with the reforms carried out by national and local governments the National Association of Local and Regional Governments (in short, NALAG) has started a project, which aims to promote adoption and implementation of ,,the European Charter for the Equality of Women and Men in Local life’’.
First, let me briefly lead you into the major developments of gender equality reforms of Georgian government that in fact have significant influence on gender policies at municipal level.
In this respect crucially important was ratification of the Istanbul Convention that is “Convention of council of Europe on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence” in 2017. The Georgian parliament has also adopted amendments in twenty different laws, bringing national legislation in line with the Istanbul Convention.
1. The ‘’Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence and Assistance and Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence’’ now after amendments covers not only domestic violence, but also, violence against women in general. The amendments also include number of new mechanisms for protecting victims of domestic violence.
2. Sanctions against domestic crime were increased; the term of domestic violence was broadened and special articles sanctioning forced marriage and stalking have been introduced into the criminal code of Georgia.
As we know, laws are fragile without corresponding institutional mechanisms. In line with international obligations and Recommendation #260 and Resolution 279 of the congress of local and regional authorities Government of Georgia also established an Inter-Agency commission on Gender Equality and Combating violence against Women and Domestic Violence in 2017. This Commission is Deputy Ministerial level and is chaired by the assistant to the Prime Minister on Human Rights and Gender Equality issues.
Let me tell you that above mentioned changes have huge practical impact. The level of identification of domestic violence has raised significantly.
Equally important was the adoption of ‘’The Law on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination’’. Now public institutions are to carry out proactive measures in order to identify and combat any form discrimination.
An immense impact on empowerment of women and their professional growth has had the expansion of the maternity leave by 45% (from 126 to 183 days) and increase of financial assistance by 66%. Importantly enough now men are also entitled to enjoy the right of paternity leave.
As you can see the scope of recent gender equality reforms in Georgia is very broad and there is much more to say about the newly enacted legal and institutional guarantees in this respect, but now let me turn to the initiatives at municipal level:
Most prominent novation in this regard is establishment of Gender Equality Councils under the municipal legislative bodies and appointment of Gender advisors in the structure of municipal executive government. “The Georgian law on Gender Equality’’ has defined that City and municipal legislative bodies create local equality councils to supervise gender equality issues and carry out gender impacts analysis at local level. Mayors and executives of municipalities also take responsibility to appoint at least one person within the structure of local executive government in charge of gender equality issues, so called gender advisors.
These initiatives correspond with the recommendation # 260 and the resolution #279 of Congress of CoE. Both the resolution and recommendation include the suggestion on establishment of inter-institutional cooperation in order to facilitate complex solutions of women’s issues.
The local Municipal Gender Equality Councils are responsible for monitoring of implementation of gender equality policies at local level. The council should coordinate with the national gender equality council of the parliament of Georgia, a standing body of the Parliament that ensures systematic and coordinated activity on gender issues. The Municipal Gender Equality Councils also have the mandate of gender impact Analyses of local laws and municipal programs.
Recently, gender equality council of Tbilisi City Assembly elaborated and adopted gender strategy of Tbilisi municipality. The strategy defines gender policy of Tbilisi, its principles and priorities of development during 2017-2020. The aim of the strategy is to support equal male and female participation in creation and implementation of local policies.
I would also like to note that, today while the delegation of Tbilisi participates in this conference, Tbilisi City Assembly is considering the gender equality action plan of the capital city. The action plan was elaborated and submitted for consideration by the gender equality council of Tbilisi City Assembly.
Apart from municipal councils in more than half of Georgian municipalities there are so called ‘’Women’s Room’’ services housed in the local self-government buildings. These are resource and consultancy service centers provided by local self-government with the assistance of European and US donor organizations that contribute to enhancing women’s access to public goods, encourage and increase women’s participation in decision making process. Especially effective is this service in rural areas of Georgia.
We at NALAG, National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia, aim to facilitate further development of municipal women’s rooms and cover all regions of Georgia.
Besides, in response to my initiative, Gender equality platform has been created at NALAG.
And we started a project which aims at raising awareness of the representatives of Georgian municipalities about the ‘’European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life.’’ With good support and technical assistance of Norwegian Government and in cooperation with local Offices of UNDP, ALDA and NDI we published a brochure on the EU Charter and went with conferences to the regions. We got a powerful support from the gender council of Parliament.
As a result of the project municipalities accelerated effort to create municipal gender councils, to enact gender strategies. Now very few municipalities less than five have not yet gender councils in place. Moreover, if before there were only 2 women among the members of executive board of NALAG, now women comprise 50 % of executive board of the Association. The gender equality platform is a flexible and efficient mechanism for coordination of gender policies among local self-governments and with the Gender Council of Parliament of Georgia. In order to further strengthen the platform we are establishing a coordination council and women’s network in the framework of the gender platform of NALAG.
Just very recently, a month ago, NALAG and National Gender Equality Council of Georgian Parliament held the first national conference on ,,supporting Gender Equality on Local Level’’. The representatives of all 64 municipalities of Georgia participated in the conference and policy discussion.
I believe that in line with the recommendation of the Congress, the vertical and the horizontal co-operation at different levels of government – national and local, all players concerned, women’s NGOs in particular, in all spheres health, security, youth, education, housing, brings tangible results for the good of the sustainable development and human rights.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND COOPERATION.