Ana Japharidze, 15 years old, Gori

School
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I’m a ninth-grader attending one of the public schools in Gori. You can find lots of pros and cons looking at schools from various perspectives. Firstly, school is one of the (if not the only) means for personal development and growth as we spend most of our everyday life there and learn, so to speak, to distinguish between right and wrong, face challenges etc. On the other hand, however, there are lots of problems in the education system – I personally don’t really like many things. I see schools as an institution locking us up in the shell and each of us has to struggle to use the knowledge received there. The education system is not designed for personal development of schoolchildren, and how a particular subject would help our future profession. I wish (and I’m certain many other schoolchildren do as well) we could make our timetables and learning plans ourselves which would help our professional development in the future. This is the only way to build the attitude shattering the system consisting of non-professionals and solve the problem.

Bullying is one of the biggest and topical issues in schools. This involves not only the individual experiencing it but the entire society. Bullying in schools bears witness to aggression and malevolence among schoolchildren. It would have been better to take steps against bullying earlier than our government did following the known tragedy happened a few months ago, then, perhaps we could have avoided tragic events. Now, a police crew patrols the school site and nearby area all the time. Yet, it takes more than police and stricter control to solve the problem. I guess, we should think of other ways too, such as a psychologist who would regularly visit schools and work closely not only with children but parents too. Today we don’t have that. After those tragic events, the psychologist held a single general meeting in our school where attendance was optional. Regrettably, not many people attended it. I therefore assume meetings with a psychologist must be either compulsory or part of the classes so that psychologist could regularly come to classes and talk to children. I believe that talking with a psychologist can substantially change the aggressive behavior of a child. The attitudes at the meeting were quite curious. Having been asked what would we do in a similar situation (e.i. the tragedy which took lives of two schoolchildren a few months ago), most girls answered they would call 112 or involve police, while the boys told they would go there themselves and wouldn’t involve the police.

Bullying is one of the biggest and topical issues in schools. This involves not only the individual experiencing it but the entire society. Bullying is a clear demonstration of the aggression and malevolence spread among schoolchildren. It would have been better to take steps against bullying earlier than our government did following the known tragedy happened a few months ago, then, perhaps we could have avoided tragic events.

As for teachers, I happen to know the teachers with a stereotypical mindset and vice versa. Once, I remember my classmate boy, who was asked by one of the teachers to rub the blackboard clean, objected saying: “Why should I clean while there are 15 girls in the class?”. In return, the teacher gave us a talk about equality which I liked a lot. After all, she could remain silent and not say a word. However, I also recall another teacher’s cynical remark towards my pregnant classmate: „Who cares about pupils wearing earrings at school when I have a girl with a “huge belly” sitting in the classroom”. I’ve also heard from my friends a lot about teachers who tend to ask boys to learn some particular patriotic poem or another piece of text of the same kind, as patriotism doesn’t seem girls’ thing to them. I also know that they do not demand girls to learn physics, chemistry, math and similar subjects on the pretext that girls are less capable of learning those subjects than boys. I’m happy, however, these things haven’t happened to me personally. Even so, I wouldn’t have let it pass since I’ve learned perfectly well that remaining silent won’t solve the problem. If we don’t try to take our part in it, we’ll remain in the dead end.

I’ve already decided I’m going to be a journalist. One of the reasons for me to decide on journalist’s profession is the opportunity of being closely connected to people. I want to tell them that the trouble our country is in today will pass only if we won’t be afraid of speaking up and will be capable of defending our opinion.

Young Feminists
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Being a member of young feminists’ group, I consider myself a feminist. It all started when I accidentally came across a museum research about feminist women through social media. Back then, I knew very little about feminism idea. In that research, there were women who changed the history of Georgia in 18-19 centuries, yet we know nearly nothing about them. This is how I end up in a group where I found out about feminism. Having taken in the concept of feminism, I recalled numerous occasions which I couldn’t exactly define before, but they were always bothering me. I remember once at the hospital I witnessed a scene of husband and wife who came to find out their future child’s sex. The friend accompanying the husband encouraged him with “it must be a boy” and “a man’s man deserves a boy child”. I remember the husband’s eyes shone with delight when his wife came out of doctor’s office and said it was going to be a boy, and his words “At last, I’ll be a father!”. As I found out later, their first child was a girl. I myself was a child back then, so I didn’t really realize what happened but it stamped on my memory.

There are quite hostile attitudes towards feminism around me and within society in general. I guess this is because they don’t have proper information about what feminism is. Assumptions within society have often nothing to do with the reality. They regard feminists as man-haters who boost their rights by diminishing men’s. I think men get really scared seeing women’s power.

In our group of young feminists, we’re especially concerned about the lack of interest in this subject among youth. We, therefore, try our best to spread information and knowledge, involve more young people in our group and break the stereotypes related to feminism.

At my 15, I think of myself as a feminist considering it my duty to speak up on behalf of millions of repressed and silenced women who still have to bear pain and pressure. I want to tell them that they must break the silence. While in 19-20 centuries there were women like Kato Mikeladze, Ekaterina Gabashvili and others who fought against narrow-minded views, why can’t people get to know Ana Japharidze and young feminists’ group who fights against violence and inequality within our society in the 21st century?

Author: Ida Bakhturidze
Photo credit: Sopho Aptsiauri

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