Gender Awareness at the Universities in Tbilisi: Gender Essay Contest

Georgia

Gender Awareness at the Universities in Tbilisi: Gender Essay Contest

Khatuna Samnidze
Challenges and Opportunities
Despite the fact that gender issues are one of the serious problems in Georgia, neither gender awareness nor the various projects connected with this topic are oriented to the younger generation, and nor are they integrated in any stage of the educational system.

In order to increase young people’s awareness and support the development of appropriate attitudes and expectations regarding gender equality, this year the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional office in Tbilisi, within the framework of its gender project, announced a contest of essays at various centres of higher education in Tbilisi. Considering the need for more information and a needs assessment of the younger generation on topics connected with gender, we thought that project could, first, determine the educational level, attitudes and feelings of the youth regarding the issue, and thus serve as indirect research of the level of gender awareness at institutions of higher education in the capital; second, by working with the young generation through discussions and student conferences organized to present the submitted essays, the project could serve to support the young in seeking answers and solutions to improve the situation in the country and develop better strategies to solve the existing problems related to gender.

Very active and motivated young students submitted their essays – some critical, some too pessimistic, some fairly confused, but the contents of all the works and the presentations of students during the student conferences have proven once again that there is much to be done in order to raise the awareness of the younger generation, to educate and train them, and to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the subject in order to make the issue accessible to Georgian society. In their essays the students described their experiences regarding the issue, writing about some real cases, explaining the importance of gender education, the influence of traditions on women’s activeness and the current low level of participation of women in decision making processes. But the major problem that students still consider to be a basis of the existing gender inequality in the country is associated with the stereotypes prevalent in society, which are strengthened through the educational system, media, traditions and society’s weakness in the fight against gender injustice.

Considering everything mentioned above, the goal of the project to conduct indirect research and learn about the situation regarding gender awareness among the young population of the country has been achieved, demonstrating that it is very important to develop and implement various training and educational programs to increase the students’ level of gender education, start this process at an early stage and thus bring the younger generation closer to these problems and challenges, to make them actors in and not observers of the process. A corollary goal is to increase their level of involvement and strengthen their decision-making abilities in order to defeat stereotypes and improve the situation in the country one step at a time.


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