In the words of Anna Datiashvili: “The ice of gender stereotypes is starting to melt”
Anna Datiashvili, 23, is head of the “Youth for Zestafoni” group in the small village of Zestafoni in Georgia. Together with friends, she founded the youth group to promote gender equality and address the needs of young women and men in her community. Anna is one of the 226 young girls and boys who participated in the UN Women and UNFPA-led “Youth for Social Change” initiative, aimed at promoting gender equality and eliminating gender stereotypes in Georgia as part of the “EU 4 Gender Equality: Together against gender stereotypes and gender-based violence” programme.
“I am the Chair of the initiative group, which is a very big responsibility. Leadership is not easy. You must give everyone some knowledge, motivation, manage processes and be involved in all events – but that is my call. At this stage, we are mainly focused on educational projects, because what young people need most is education.
I believe that our activism will help to attract and keep people from leaving the region, will create a lot of jobs and interesting projects, and will involve youth. If you support young people with information, teach them how to solve problems diplomatically, without violence, and motivate them, you will get good results. Youth is power.
Young people would create families, get employed in serious positions, and raise children very soon. It is important to create an environment free from stereotypes for them. It will help to eliminate violence, discrimination, and disrespect in their families and workplaces.
We have one important goal – the elimination of gender inequality. That this is our starting point. Education, raising awareness and creating new opportunities will increase the nation’s progress towards gender (and general) equality.
We have just started our work, but we have already done a lot of things. Through advocacy, and with the support of the City Hall of Zestafoni Municipality, we found a space where we hold movie screenings with follow-up discussions, workshops and training on gender equality. As of now, around 30 students attend the Sunday School every week. The ice of gender stereotypes is starting to melt after every meeting.
Harmful gender stereotypes persist in Zestafoni. We should work with the root causes of these stereotypes. That is why education is important. That is why I decided to equip myself with the legitimate tool to make changes in the education system, and I enrolled in the programme on higher education leadership and management at a state university. I think I will be able to make a lot of positive changes.
The main challenge for us is the widespread misunderstanding of gender equality and gender in general. That’s why we try to provide information to young people in a way that they can better understand. For example, we held the theatre forum "Early marriage", where we showed the importance of gender equality.
I would recommend to young people in my community never to be afraid to face new challenges. Every experience is one step taken to success in your future work because you are developing the skills.”
The “Youth for Social Change” initiative was conducted within the “EU 4 Gender Equality: Together against gender stereotypes and gender-based violence" programme, which is funded by the European Union and jointly implemented by UN Women and UNFPA. This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of UN Women and UNFPA and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.