Georgia becoming more gender-sensitive but bias remains, study reveals
Women’s attitudes to gender roles are changing faster than those of men
More than half of all Georgians – 63 percent of women and 54 percent of men – think Georgia has yet to achieve meaningful gender equality. And 60 percent are confident that greater involvement of women in politics would benefit their country. Whereas 59 percent of men and 38 percent of women believe that women’s main duty is to take care of their families. Both women and men in Georgia have become more favourable to gender equality over the past seven years, but women are discarding traditional stereotypes much faster than are men.
These findings were revealed by new research “Men, Women and Gender Relations in Georgia: Public Perceptions and Attitudes” released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with support from the Swedish Government. Building on the results of a similar study carried out in 2013, the research unveils lingering disparities in the social perceptions of gender roles in Georgia while showing that traditional gender stereotypes have become less common than they were seven years ago.
“Attitudes are changing and it is heartening to see the progress that Georgia has made over a fairly short period,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “But equal rights for women are unfortunately still called into question, particularly by Georgian men. Nearly 40 percent of men still think that a woman cannot perform professionally as well as a man, even if both are equally qualified. And almost half of the respondents overall also believe that men make better political leaders than women. If Georgia is to derive full benefit from all of its citizens, we need to overcome discrimination and stereotypes.”
“The research analysed attitudes and perceptions regarding gender equality from societal, community, relationship and individual levels. Relationships indeed are irrefutable markers to trace changes, thus, it is interesting to observe a stark shift in the perceptions on women’s role in the family captured by the research,” UNFPA Head Lela Bakradze said. “Currently, a significant number of the respondents (50.4%) do not agree with the opinion that women’s primary duty is to take care of the family, while the same was reported by only 11% in 2013. Fewer people perceive women as the sole care-takers of the families, marked by 50.4% of the respondents in comparison to 89% in 2013. Similarly, the percentage of people agreeing that men have the final say in the family decreased by over 28% of the respondents. These figures indicate remarkable change, and it is obvious that much of the decline is due to shifting views among the younger generation. The remarkable percentage of both women and men support that both parents shall be entitled to parental leave (67.3% and 64.6%, respectively); this is yet another evidence indicating the shift happening in social norms.”
The comparative study found that traditional views of gender roles are becoming less common and that the understanding of gender equality has significantly changed since 2013, particularly among younger generations.
Currently, the distribution of household work in Georgia is still starkly segregated by gender, with women doing the cooking, cleaning and childcare tasks in overwhelming numbers. Three out of four respondents say that women always perform basic care duties. However, the proportion of both women and men who see caregiving tasks as the mother’s responsibility declined substantially, from 81 percent to 69 percent for men, and from 76 percent to 54 percent for women. While seven years ago 87 percent of men and 70 percent of women agreed that final decisions in households belonged to men, in 2019 this view was shared by 68 percent of men and only 34 percent of women.
The perception of women’s role in business is also changing. While in 2013, 58 percent of respondents said they thought men were better leaders in business than women, by 2019 this share had dropped to 39 percent. At the same time, the recognition of the challenges women face on the job market is substantial, as a staggering 85 percent of women and 58 percent of men agree that women have to overcome more obstacles than do men in their careers. Women cited their responsibilities in the household as the biggest barrier to greater engagement in economic activity and public life.
“Georgian society is moving away from gender-biased views and attitudes towards achieving meaningful gender equality,” said Lela Akiashvilli, the Prime Minister’s Advisor for Human Rights and Gender Equality. “However, more consistent and specific policies are needed to accelerate that progress and support greater equality in public life as well as in the distribution of household work.“
“Supporting gender equality and women leaders remains a priority for Sweden,” said Ulrik Tideström, Ambassador of Sweden to Georgia and Armenia. “This flagship research provides solid evidence for celebrating the successes Georgia has achieved in recent years and pinpointing the challenges that are yet to be addressed.”
The study on public perception of gender roles and attitudes was commissioned by UNDP and UNFPA under the Sweden-funded UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality in Georgia. The research was conducted in 2019 by the organization Promundo – the global leader in advancing gender equality and preventing violence by engaging men and boys, and the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), based on the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), a comprehensive household questionnaire on men's attitudes and practices, along with women's opinions and reports of men’s practices, on a wider variety of topics related to gender equality. The data were collected by face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of around 2,500 citizens and during focus group discussions in five regions.