In the words of Dimitri Tskitishvili: “A traditional society can be more easily persuaded when a man talks about gender equality”
Date: Friday, January 5, 2018
For the past 18 years, Dimitri Tskitishvili has been in politics in Georgia. He saw political participation as a way to bring change, even when he was chair of a youth organization and advocated for gender equality. He is now a Member of Parliament (MP) in Georgia where he is part of the Gender Equality Council, whose strategy has four pillars: research and policy-making; law making; awareness raising; and communication. The Council’s action plan includes fostering economic empowerment, political participation, and social rights legislation. In October 2017, Mr. Tskitishvili spoke at the Regional Conference "Parliamentarians for gender equality and women's empowerment," organized by UN Women, UNDP, and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in partnership with the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and with support from the Government of Sweden.
I was once on a panel “Can men be feminists?” For the public, it seemed a rhetorical question, but in reality, why can’t men be feminists? After all, feminism is not about women fighting for women`s rights, it is about fighting for gender equality. Equality is a general principle of my political philosophy, and gender equality, specifically, is a top priority.
Traditional stereotypes in our society hold us back from change and positive development. We must spend more time, energy and discussions to achieve gender equality. Our society is more easily persuaded when a man talks about gender equality. From a traditional point of view, I don’t have a personal interest when I talk about gender issues or women`s political participation, because I am not a woman and I am not going to take something that doesn’t belong to me.
I consider myself a feminist. Many people think that I am just playing a political game when I say that, but working to achieve gender equality is an internal value for me.
Inequality, discrimination against women, cultural discrimination, and physical discrimination and violence are interconnected. Our traditional society gives legitimacy to such discrimination. We must destroy these stereotypes and find institutional ways to avoid discrimination against women and give them free choice to choose the life they want to live.
We have made some progress in violence against women and domestic violence. We have improved institutional settings, political decision-making and good will to change all levels of Georgian authorities. This takes time. We must accept that women are not secondary people in our society. They are equal and they must be equally represented everywhere.
We lived in a patriarchal society but have to leave these traditions. It is all about changing ourselves, about changing society, about progress and development. That’s why it’s important that men and boys get involved in advocating gender equality.
In my opinion, when women talk about gender issues, the perception is that that they are advocating for their role. But when men advocate for women`s rights, the perception is more objective. They are not fighting for their own personal interests.
When I make interventions on gender equality and women`s rights, some men start to think about it differently and critically, simply because they are hearing about it from a man. This is why I am try to be active and talk about gender equality and women`s rights from where I stand.”