From where I stand: “Tales can instill positive values”
Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Diana Anthimiadou is a popular Georgian writer who contributed two tales to the collection of fairy tales “Once There was a Girl,” developed by UN Women in Georgia. The characters in Ms. Anthimiadou’s tales are inspired by famous Georgian women - folk hero Ana Baji and the calligrapher Manana Zedginidze. Both made important marks on Georgian history and culture. Through her tales, she aims to challenge gender stereotypes which are ingrained at an early age.
For any female writer who has heard that “for a woman”, she writes well, or that she is “doing okay, for a female writer”, stereotypes matter. Therefore, working on tales with the purpose of breaking gender stereotypes was a challenge: I was on a quest for interesting women hidden in history whose stories I could tell to children in an engaging and unbiased way. During this process, I discovered that I myself was not completely free from gender stereotypes. I re-wrote my tales and read them anew with a different perspective, many times.
Adults forget things from their childhood, but they never forget the frozen hands of the Little Match Girl, or the anxiety they experienced after reading a scary story. Tales have great power. They can generate feelings, shape values, but also reproduce biases and discriminatory stereotypes.
I have written two tales for the collection of fairy tales Once There was a Girl. I was particularly fascinated by the calligrapher Manana, an eighteenth-century woman who copied the famous epic poem The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, by twelfth-century poet Shota Rustaveli. Her great contribution to history, however, went unnoticed - because she was a woman. Through her story, I discovered parallels between Manana and today’s editors and copy editors, mainly women, who contribute to people’s literacy but are not recognized for it. For me, Manana symbolizes all of the invisible women behind the books we read.
The fairy tale collection, published in June 2018, will be distributed to the public and to community libraries throughout Georgia. With the publishing of this book, UN Women aims to promote gender equality among girls and boys as part of the UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality in Georgia, funded by the Government of Sweden. Through her writing, Ms. Anthimiadou makes a valuable contribution to dismantling gender stereotypes and contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality).