From where I stand: "It is professionalism that matters, not gender"

Date: Monday, July 10, 2017

Major Tamar Mghebrishvili; Photo: Maka Kurfarashvili

When I finished high school, I wanted to go to law school, but my father told me that practicing law was not for women. This is how I entered the faculty of political and social studies. Actually, I was thinking about being a soldier at that time, which is why I contacted the recruitment commission of the Ministry of Defence several times during my studies at the university. I became interested in their educational process and wanted to enrol when they opened an opportunity to individuals with a bachelor’s degree to earn the rank of an officer after completing a one-year programme at the National Defence Academy. I applied without saying anything to my family, and they learned about it only after my enrolment in the academy. Of course, they did not like my decision, but I could not object. However, today they are very proud of my successful activities.

After finishing the academy, I was qualified as a light infantry platoon leader. I attended a general military liaison programme in the United States in 2009 and became a liaison officer as well. Last year, I was selected for and completed the captain’s career course in the U.S. I am an infantry officer to the core, and it is my passion to be in the field. This is why I participated in international peacekeeping missions twice. I was first deployed to Helmand Province and then to Bagram Airfield. I was a liaison officer and also participated in the management of peacekeeping operations. These missions gave me tremendous experience.

It is wrong to say that if you are a woman, the army is not the right place for you. There were six women undergoing the basic combat preparation during my studies at the military academy. This is the stage when you have to endure many difficulties and make sure that you have relevant resilience for further military service. Many left the academy after this basic preparation and refused to continue military service. However, all six women completed the course and became officers.

I earned the rank of major last week. I used to be a platoon leader and a company commander, which is a rare case in the armed forces. They cannot imagine a woman to be a commander. I am happy to see women in the Georgian army who measure up to men in physical, moral and psychological terms. Girls also play important roles in peacekeeping missions. I think we are gradually starting to realize that it is professionalism that matters, not gender.

Major Tamar Mghebrishvili, 34, has been serving in the armed forces of Georgia since 2007. She participated in international peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan together with Georgian soldiers twice, in 2013 and 2015. Tamar’s activities echo Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, as well as Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.

Read the full story on the UN Women Georgia website.