Women in self-government: Gender balance in the municipalities of Western Georgia
In June and July 2014 Georgians elected their municipal council (sakrebulo) members in 71 districts, mayors in 12 self-governing cities and municipal ‘governors’ (gamgebeli) in 59 districts.
For years, several local and international organizations have been calling on the Georgian government to promote women's political participation at the central as well as the municipal level of public administration.
Last year TI Georgia wrote about women's participation in the municipalities of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Guria prior to the 2014 local elections. Our research showed only 12% of the sakrebulo members were women, while men held offices with the decision-making power.
Our new study demonstrates that the reality has not changed much since then. This time TI Georgia has expanded the geographic reach and researched the situation in 37 municipalities of western Georgia (Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti - Zugdidi, city of Zugdidi, Khobi, Senaki, Martvili, Abasha, Mestia, Tsalenjikha, Chkhorotsku, Poti; Guria - Ozurgeti, town of Ozurgeti, Lanchkhuti, Chokhatauri; Adjara - Batumi, Kobuleti, Khelvachauri, Khulo, Keda, Shuakhevi; Imereti - Kutaisi, Samtredia, Terjola, Zestaponi, Tskaltubo, Chiatura, Khoni, Vani, Baghdati, Kharagauli; Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti - Ambrolauri, town of Ambrolauri, Oni, Tsageri).
We found that:
Women hold few key offices in 37 self-governing units of these regions; majority of women do not hold offices with significant decision-making authority;
As a result of the 2014 local self-government elections, women have won a total of 134 mandates out of 1086 mandates (12%) in the sakrebulos of western Georgia;
Out of the 37 municipalities, women chair the sakrebulos only in Ozurgeti and Kharagauli town municipalities;
Women hold the position of sakrebulo deputy chairs in three municipalities only - the Ozurgeti community, and the Kharagauli and Terjola sakrebulos;
Women chair only 32 out of 185 permanent commissions (17%) of the sakrebulos of western Georgia;
Remarkably, the commissions are chaired by men only in the sakrebulos of the Zugdidi Community, Martvili, Chkhorotsku, Mestia, Keda, Khelvachauri, town of Ambrolauri, Ambrolauri Community, Tskaltubo, Tkibuli, Baghdati and Vani;
Women chair only 18 out of 217 factions of the sakrebulos of western Georgia (8%);
Women and men are more or less equally represented in the managing bodies of local administrations (gamgeobas) and city halls of the studied municipalities, while 56% of the sakrebulo administration employees are women;
In western Georgia’s sakrebulos, gender balance is best observed in the Ozurgeti Sakrebulo, where 7 out of 15 members are women; the sakrebulo is chaired by a man but the deputy is a woman; 3 out of 5 commission chairs are women; out of 8 faction chairs, 3 are women;
Gamgeobas and city halls of studied municipalities employ total of 4 484 servants, out of which 42% are women - 1 872 servants;
Local governors (gamgebeli)/mayors of all 37 municipalities are men and only 8 out of their 95 deputies are women. Notably, two out of Khobi Municipality gamgebeli’s 4 deputies are women;
Gamgebelis of Senaki, Mestia, Oni, Tkibuli, Samtredia and Chiatura also have female deputies;
Majority of heads of various structural units of gamgeobas/city halls in the studied municipalities are men. There are only 58 women among 325 division heads;
As for department heads in gamgeobas/city halls, women and men are more or less equally represented - out of 570 heads 234 are women;
Gender balance in the gamgeobas/city halls is best observed in Mestia Gamgeoba, where 46 out of 91 employees are women; gamgebeli is a man and one of his two deputies is a woman; divisions are headed by 5 women and 4 men; there are 13 female and 5 male department heads;
Apart from the department head's office, women do not hold high-level positions in Kutaisi City Hall and Shuakhevi Municipality Gamgeoba.
In parallel to this study, TI Georgia collected information on women's participation in public administration in the European states. Several examples are provided below:
Women's participation in regional and municipal governing bodies of Germany as of 2011
Germany is divided into 13 federal lands and 3 cities having the federal land status. Under the Constitution, each land exercises ultimate self-government and in 4-5 years the legislative bodies (Landtags) are elected, which then constitute and approve regional government and elect its head (Minister-President).
Lands are divided into districts (Kreis) and independent cities (Kreisfreie Stadt). The Lands of Hamburg and Berlin are divided into districts (Bezirk), the districts - into cities (Stadt) and communities (Gemeinde), independent cities - into settlements (Ortschaft), districts of the Hamburg and Berlin Lands - into local quarters (Ortsteil), cities, communities, settlements (Wohngebiet). Representative and executive authorities exist at all levels of local self-government.
The chart below depicts women's participation in public administration, as well as the women's percentage in decision-making positions in Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan and Albania.
Source: UNDP's report "Gender Equality in Public Administration" (2014)
Modern democracies have long reached a consensus that equal participation of women and men in public administration is one of the foundations of effective state governance. Georgian authorities must set up institutional mechanisms that will overcome all obstacles impeding women in gaining political positions, especially when the number of women in the country is over 50%.
The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers has developed clear recommendations on the need of women's participation in the local self-government decision-making bodies. The Council of Europe urges the Georgian authorities to create proper conditions so that women "combine family and work life with active political life easier".
According to the 2014-2016 Action Plan of Events for Implementation of Gender Equality Policy in Georgia, the state took an obligation to strive to achieve gender equality at the local self-government level, including increased women's participation in the local authorities, identification of leader women, and their further empowerment. To meet these obligations, it would be preferable for the political parties to nominate women for mayors/gamgebelis or the sakrebulo Chairs.
TI Georgia calls on the authorities, political parties, and local authorities to ensure increased women's participation in active political life, so that the decisions made by central or local authorities better address the interests of all social groups.