Women in self-government: Gender balance in the municipalities of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Guria
The next local self-government election in Georgia will be held on 15 June, 2014. As a result of which, mayors will be elected in 12 self-governing cities, along with Gamgebelis (local governor) and members of the Sakrebulo (city council) in 59 municipalities in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Guria regions.
In recent years, numerous international organizations approached the Georgian authorities with the recommendation to increase the number of employed women at both levels of local and central authorities.
Transparency International Georgia has examined the current situation in this respect in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Guria. Study results demonstrate that women are underrepresented in responsible positions in the 12 self-governing units (Ozurgeti, Lanchkhuti, Chokhatauri, Martvili, Abasha, Senaki, Poti, Khobi, Zugdidi, Tsalenjikha, Chkhorotsku and Mestia) of these regions. The majority of women do not occupy positions necessary for significant decision-making. They are primarily occupied with paperwork management and other administrative positions.
As a result of the 2010 local self-government elections, out of 320 mandates in the Sakrebulos of 12 self-governing units in Guria and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, women have won only 34, which is 12% of the total number.
Out of 34 women members of Sakrebulos in the above-listed municipalities, only one, Magdalina Menabde, occupies a high position: she is the Deputy Chairman of the Poti Sakrebulo. Notably, men chair the Sakrebulos in all 12 municipalities.
There are only six women chairing 60 permanent commissions of the Sakrebulos, which is 10% of the total number.
Women head only 7 out of 79 factions in the Sakrebulos of Guria and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti; along with two women in Lanchkhuti and two women in Senaki municipalities.
Remarkably, women and men are almost equally represented in the management of the Sakrebulo administrations of the examined municipalities. While the number of women on staff amounts to 66% in these Sakrebulo administrations.
The Gamgebelis/Mayors of all 12 self-governing municipalities/cities are men and there are only 5 women among their 35 deputies. Notably, out of the three deputies of the Chokhatauri Municipality Gamgebeli only one is a man.
A majority of the heads of various structural units in the Gamgeobas/City Halls of all 12 municipalities/cities are men. Only in the Poti City Hall are women and men more or less equally represented on the positions of the Heads/Deputies of the city services or departments. 70% of other civil servants of the Gamgeoba/City Hall, specialists or contractor staff (total number up to 2500) are men. The Poti City Hall is the only exception here as well – with 90 women and 106 men.
For general reference, as a result of the 2010 local self-government election the number of women in a local self-government representative body - Sakrebulo - has decreased. According to the Central Election Commission of Georgia, women won only 169 out of 1688 mandates in the 2010 self-government election, which is 10% of the total number. This indicator in the 2006 local self-government election was 10.8%, in 2002 – 11.9%, and in 1998 – 14%.
One positive fact is that there is additional funding opportunity for those political parties that take into account gender quotas, when drawing up the lists of election nominees. Quotas are not a discriminatory norm. To the contrary, it is a good opportunity to easily overcome all obstacles preventing women from occupying political positions, especially when the number of women in the country is over 50%. The authorities should also take care of increasing the number of women for high positions in the executive authorities.
The CoE Committee of Ministers has presented clear-cut recommendations on the need of due representation of women in the decision-making authorities of local self-government. The CoE urges the Georgian authorities to set up conditions so that women "find it easier to combine the family and business life with active political life".
The studyPublic Attitudes towards Gender Equality in Politics and Business was released in 2013, commissioned by the UN Development Program as part of the program for "Supporting Gender Equality in Georgia". Low representation of women in the local self-government authorities is identified as one of the most significant problems. The 2012 and 2013 reports of NDI also emphasize a low level of women's involvement in politics.
Under the 2014-2016 Action Plan for Implementing the Measures of Gender Equality Policy in Georgia, the state undertook the following obligations: to strive to achieve gender equality at the local self-government level; increase women representation in the local self-government authorities; and the further empowerment of female public officials. To fulfill this obligation, it would be preferable for the political parties to nominate women for a Mayor/Gamgebeli or a Sakrebulo Chair.
We believe that in order to raise awareness of gender equality issues in representatives of political parties, the Central Election Commission should enhance its activities and deliver various educational events -- so that the political parties nominate as many women as possible during elections, and guide themselves with the gender equality principles when drawing up the election lists.
Transparency International Georgia calls on the authorities, political parties, and local self-government authorities to facilitate increased participation of women in the active political life, so that the decisions of central or local authorities meet the interests of all social groups.