Keti Mouravidze, 16, Kvemo Alvani

I have lived in Kvemo Alvani for 17 years, the village where a woman is not encouraged to pursue personal development or career growth. It can be felt in every aspect, every issue, stereotypical thinking of people and the attitudes towards a woman’s role and abilities, in the culture, in music…

As a child, I often sang one song with the lyrics: “My birth was not celebrated with fireworks… A woman was born and there was nothing festive about it… Even the messenger had an apologetic tone… They say the father who had gone to hunt mountain goats, emptied the gun in anticipation of a son’s birth…”

It is only now, after facing many challenges as a girl, that I realize the pain ingrained in this sad song from Tusheti. For me, as for many people of my age, choosing the future profession is an important matter. I made my choice and I’m happy with it, even if it was not easy. Despite my grandmother’s and my teachers’ womanly advice to become a teacher, and uncertain, surprised gaze of the people around me, I am an aspiring surgeon. Even in studying and learning, which, you must agree, is not fun for anyone, girls and boys are set apart. Our teacher has said on multiple occasions: “If boys don’t study, it’s OK, but the girls who are not studying are goners!” Why? If the boys, according to the teacher are “so open-minded and talented”, shouldn’t they be deploring waste of these brilliant minds more than ignorance of girls “whose end is a husband, a child and a kitchen?”

My weight was a problem too. Having heard numerous snide comments and rude remarks, I would go home and cry, but I couldn’t cry forever, could I?! I started to work out, I jogged, in hindsight, for the wrong purpose. But now I know why and for whom I did it. I lost 10 kilos since last summer. I have not dropped active lifestyle not because I want to charm anyone with my body, but because I have proved to myself an important point and I want other girls to see and believe in the same thing.

Many girls in my school wear makeup. This is because their surroundings cause them to have inferiority complex for not having the nose, the body, or the weight that “fits the norms” set by others.

It was not easy to start workout either. My family was worried about me jogging in the neighboring village. “But you are a girl”… What if I am, I have two hands and two legs like a boy. If need be, I could easily fist fight. It is my big hope that they will open a gym in my village where the girls can work out without any restrictions.
This year, I participated in the FLEX program. If I’m lucky and have the opportunity of studying one year in the USA, I am sure that the experience received there will help me return to my country, my village and pursue my goals here.

There is not any nongovernmental organization in Kvemo Alvani that would help us in planning and carrying out various events, so most of it is done by us, girls mostly. It is quite time-consuming but it gives us more motivation and drive. What can we do? If you don’t like the environment you live in, instead of “running away” somewhere else, you should try to improve the situation around you, rather than have it easy and enjoy the comforts created by others. Then everyone will go… Unfortunately, I am not the only girl who has such and many other problems. I believe in the power of women’s solidarity and I will never lose the hope that the difficulties we have been through will not affect our sisters and friends.”