I am Generation Equality: Mariam Topchishvili, girls’ rights activist and young feminist leader
I am Generation Equality because…
I am a feminist activist striving for the empowerment of every woman and girl. I was 14 when I first attended a workshop on gender equality. I realized that all the issues that bothered me had a name: gender oppression. Since then I decided to fight for gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women. I was very lucky to have friends around me who shared my values. Together we created an initiative for young feminists in Georgia.
Three actions you can take to be part of Generation Equality:
- Believe in equality
- Demand equality
- Act for gender equality
We were just 15 years old and, as girls living in a small town called Gori in eastern Georgia, it was brave of us to openly call ourselves feminists. I remember that declaring myself a feminist created a wave of surprise, some encouragement and plenty of criticism. Many people sneered at me. They even told me that I am not a feminist as their views of feminism were completely different due to widespread stereotypes in Georgia of feminists as aggressive women willing to oppress men. They wondered how could I be a feminist?
Despite these attitudes I followed my aspirations and decided to do even more to make a difference. I used all the resources at my disposal to empower girls around me. With help from the Women Fund in Georgia, our group of young feminists met with girls from different regions across the country. We listened to them, identified challenges that they faced and hear their voices. I realized that girls have a lot of challenges that I had not experienced personally, including domestic violence, gendered occupations, early marriage, discriminatory stereotypes in schools and their communities, and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“We went through insults and humiliation, but we strongly believed and kept fighting for the idea that every girl deserves to be who she wants to be and to realize her full potential”
- Mariam Topchishvili
Since then, we have experienced many defeats and victories but we always went forward. In 2018 we decided to establish the Young Feminists non-governmental organization (NGO). I lead this team of girls full of enthusiasm driving positive changes for girls and women. We promote gender equality in Georgia through various programmes, including innovative initiatives such as video installations, exhibitions, feminist e-magazines, as well as advocacy campaigns on eliminating gender-based violence, fostering women’s polithrtical participation, and dismantling gender stereotypes.
My story may sound simple, but it is a result of a lot of struggle and hard work.
Mariam Topchishvili is a 22-year-old feminist activist from Georgia. Mariam is leading the Young Feminists NGO in Gori, Georgia. She is an advisory board member at the Women Fund in Georgia and Young Feminists Fund (FRIDA) for Central Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central and North Asia.