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On December 21, the Georgia Resident Mission (GRM) hosted a focus group consultation meeting with key stakeholders from civil society organizations (CSOs) in order to get inputs on emerging gender and development issues and trends in Georgia, and in this way feed gender analysis of Georgia Country Partnership Strategy. A List of sample questions were developed for the discussions with CSOs and included open-ended questions about priority and critical issues of gender equality for the country, as well as targeted questions concerning the sectors in which ADB operates (i.e. roads and transport; water and sanitation; energy, finance and SME). Thirteen people participated in the focus group representing non-government organizations and GRM staff. The participants noted a number of emerging issues and, among the issues raised were the following: Gender Equality Policy: The Law on Gender Equality was adopted in 2010; however there is less informationawareness among the population about the law; The 2011-2013 National Action Plan on Gender Equality is in progress, but the government’s commitment is insufficient; National Machinery - Gender Equality Parliamentary Council – is not supported by a similar body at the executive government level to ensure implementation of the gender equality policies; The Law on domestic violence and the relevant action plan are in place and a special council is coordinating activities for combating domestic violence; the State is also supporting victims of violence and trafficking with a special entity and 2 shelters; and There is a need to lobby on gender equality policy issues with the new government of Georgia. Political Participation Women’s resources are rarely used in the public space; Most of the government processes, also on local level, are not participatory and also exclude women and marginalized groups; Political parties rarely consider the advantage granted by legislation in 2011 of increasing their funding in case they engage more women; Women occupy about 10% of the seats in Parliament – a slight increase after the October 2012 Parliamentary elections, compared to 6% of seats occupied by women in the previous Parliament; an almost similar number of women are in local governance; and Women themselves need to be encouraged to engagein politics. Gender Statistics: The lack of relevant statistics, particularly sex-disaggregated information; Lack of coordination between users and producers of gender statistics; and Lack of ‘useful’ indicators for policy monitoring and planning. Education and healthcare: There is no discrimination in access to education; and Gender expertise and increase of gender sensitivity is generally lacking in the educational system. The lack of free or affordable preschool or childcare has a significant impact on the lives of women as well as children;
Violence against women is a concern for women leading to short term and long term health consequences; and Increases in family planning, contraceptive use and modernizing maternity care are observed; abortion is still persistent. Women, Employment and Entrepreneurship: The Labor market in general and gender aspects of the labor market have been underresearched; Gender budgeting is another problem that requires proper approach by the state and involvement of qualified human resources; Budget planning lacks involvement of civil society; Inconvenient working hours and working conditions for women are not regulated by the appropriate legislation; Women maintain low paid jobs and are employed in traditional fields; There is a trend of women’s advancement in mid-level management positions; Women are mostly self-employed; Most women work in the agricultural sector, food processing sector, retail industry, education and health sector; Women lack knowledge on how to do and develop business; There is no network of entrepreneurs to support mentoring and exchanges among women SMEs entrepreneurs, in particular, micro entrepreneurs; and Collateral is also a problem for women willing to start business and need access to credit. Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS): Part of the rural population still obtains water from alternative sources, which are more expensive than water provided by Government utilities; Women have important roles in water management but are not appreciated and recognized; Sanitation and hygiene may be an issue in some rural and poor areas; and Women are not visible in the WSS sector and, thus, do not participate in decision-making. Roads and Transport: Improvement of roads is observed in the last few years, but lack of secondary roads may be an issue; Improved roads would increase better access to employment and health services as well as education; There are a lack of surveys on roads and transport, including socio-economic surveys; Economic opportunities for women along transport corridors are not sufficiently addressed to increase benefits from the improved infrastructure and trade opportunities; and Improved road safety and relevant awareness is also important during implementing road and transport projects. Energy: Within households men make decisions on sources and types of energy, even though women are the primary users of energy in the home and are therefore more vulnerable to lapses in energy supply; Often women lack information on efficient energy use; and Women are underrepresented in the energy sector.
Main conclusions: The biggest issue is self-awareness of gender inequality and discrimination by women themselves as women seldom are conscious about the discrimination and are less informed about their rights; There is a need to strengthen the national institutional mechanism on gender equality and authorize one agency at the executive level with coordinating functions. This will enable efficient
and good quality coordination of the implementation of the National Action Plan and other policy documents on gender equality; The lack of coordination between ministries as well as the lack of state funds for gender mainstreaming leads to limited progress for implementing gender equality policies; Mechanisms to combat domestic violence are supported by the state, but involvement of international organizations and NGOs, as well as collaboration between entities has been largely observed; The failure of State agencies to implement the National Action Plan on gender equality – mostly implementation is as a result of the good will of donor agencies and state involvement is lacking. Monitoring, co-ordination and collection of gender statistics are not addressed properly,resulting in the irregular publication of gender data as well as ineffective dissemination of gender data. There is little coordination among data users and producers; Gender statistics on in-country regional levels needs to be strengthened; Unemployment in rural areas especially is a problem. The population is mainly living off their plots of land, but they lack the resources to develop them further for agriculture. Women are mostly performing the vast majority of agricultural work but they do not participate in the formal economy; The labor code requires review from a gender perspective and relevant amendments are needed; Gender analysis of school curricula and textbooks could contribute to developing the principles of multiculturalism, ethnic tolerance and non-violence; It is very difficult for women to combine having children with having a career; Many women work in the informal sector (in trade, at bazaars, self-employment etc.) and are unprotected in terms of pregnancy/maternity leave, sick leave, pension etc; Women’s economic vulnerabilities are linked to physical vulnerabilities (e.g. Gender-based violence); Women are active in the SME sector, but a more systematic and not fragmented approach is needed by the state and donors for the development of women’s entrepreneurship, e.g. establishing a network and fund; or having a government strategy; The creation of programs to support women’s entrepreneurship could help to empower women and resolve the issue of women’s unemployment; Road and transport projects need to take into consideration all aspects of women’s access (physical access, costs, safety, usefulness of routes and comfort and security of stops of bus stops etc.); Having women bus drivers could be a guarantee for safe transportation but is not promoted; Women’s economic opportunities could be improved by providing places for them to sell products and other goods as well as facilitate training on business development and increase their financial literacy to benefit from the improved trade opportunities; Need for better targeting of women in energy projects and initiatives; Representation of women in the sectors of energy, transport and WSS is crucial; Society lacks knowledge of infrastructure projects and often does not participate in decisionmaking at the community level; The involvement of men in promoting gender equality is lacking; Development partners need more consistent approaches to promoting gender equality and not fragmented initiatives; and There needs to be a network of development partners to lobby for gender equality issues with the new government of Georgia.
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