Tamar Kordzaia, Tbilisi

„I had an innate sense of protest against prohibitions ever since I can remember but I gave it the name “gender based discrimination” only later, when I became a majoritarian MP candidate. Even as a little girl, I realized that my brother was in a more advantageous situation than I was. It took me a lot of effort to choose the profession I wanted, to study and, at the same time, to take care of two infants, to wear what I wanted, to be responsible for the fact that the first marriage fell apart due to the problems related to an early marriage, and for the fact that I married a second time…

When I went to the election office, I started to realize that discrimination against women was a system-wide problem. My second marriage immediately came under the spotlight. I felt this issue following me like a shadow and it was clear they were going to use it against me throughout my whole career. There was a direct pressure on me to go to church… They controlled what I wore, which shoes picked…

I was the only female majoritarian MP candidate in the district of Nadzaladevi and, honestly, none of my male colleagues faced the challenges that came on my way. I have to say that every time I connected these little things with the issue of women’s rights, they laughed it off, claiming gender issues had nothing to do with it. However, if you look at it from a comprehensive perspective, you will realize that women have to go through hell.

When I appeared in the Parliament for the first time, somebody from the opposition party loudly mentioned: “Finally, a pretty woman in that coalition”. I immediately felt myself not like a rational human but as an ornate accessory. By the way, I have felt a similar attitude not once or twice, for instance, when I receive phone calls after TV debates to complement me how good I looked on screen, not about how well I made my point. What I speak about goes largely unnoticed.

Gender based discrimination is a pain in the heart of a woman. If you don’t hide it, if you acknowledge it and speak up about it, this is where you start the fight for equality. During my work in the Parliament, I have brought about many initiatives under the bills on sexual harassment and femicide. Both bills were followed by an irrational fear from my male counterparts. During the discussions, they often argued that these were not pressing problems and we had far more important social issues to address first. They believed that a woman should be OK with male dominance and acknowledge that she is an object of desire for a man.

That’s right, a woman is a subordinate in the family hierarchy and the life of a male could even be more valuable… I have often told them: “Gentlemen, I, Tamar Kordzaia, am a woman who have personally suffered from it all and it pains me.” Their answer was: “No, you are not Tamar and it does not hurt you. We know better what women need”… That is why the date for considering the bill about femicide has not been set yet. Yet, this bill could drastically change the life of the women who are victims of violence.

When you are part of an active political life, you need to overcome more challenges as a woman. Even though I was in the thick of it, I always had a feeling that men tried to push me aside. For example, when we were in a region and men impulsively decided to go to a restaurant, they did not call female colleagues with them. They consider that it would not be decent for a woman to go to a regional restaurant in the middle of the night, surrounded by men. However, there might be important issues at discussion there and even some decisions may be made, while you, a woman, are repeatedly excluded from this process, even if you hold the so-called “decision-making position”.

I think we, women, have a better sense of solidarity, because we are united by discrimination against us. However, women have a problem with patriarchal hierarchy. For women, the most important thing is to acknowledge our uniqueness and the fact that we have at least once (if not more often) suffered from gender-based inequality from the system. Women must speak with each other about it and then speak up publicly. I refuse to believe that women have not at least once felt themselves humiliated, bullied or made to feel like a lesser person. That is why, if every woman realizes this and if they are, first of all, honest with each other and then to men, we will be able to stand together to effect social changes.

I never shy away from saying that there is no such thing as equal opportunity. Not acknowledging that there are no equal conditions, means that your view of the world is twisted. It also means accepting that the only measure of power is the privileged position men are in, the men who have been born with more freedom to participate in social affairs. There is nothing more cruel and violent than saying that women must be appraised by men’s standards as, unfortunately, in our reality, a woman’s success is measured with how she raises her children, how good she is at keeping her family together and how good she looks. A woman does not have equal footing with a man starting from an early childhood: her behaviors, her sexuality, her choices are closely controlled. That is why, if women unite and support each other, we are sure to find huge untapped resource in ourselves and we will start bringing about changes by changing ourselves in the first place.”