Women Rights Activists: “Georgian Dream” Campaign Tactic Discriminatory

Eight local women rights activist groups, including Georgian Women’s Movement, Sapari and Equality Movement spoke about the “signs of gender discrimination” in the presidential campaign and called upon the contestants, among them the ruling party, to demonstrate gender sensitivity.

In a statement released on November 16, local CSOs said that despite generally poor political culture and personal attacks, as well as several sexist statements, notably by former President Mikheil Saakashvili and the Labour Party leader, Shalva Natelasvhili, the first round of the presidential race did not give center stage to discriminatory positions or statements.

All the while, the statement noted, the ruling party had consistently tried “to present their female candidate [Salome Zurabishvili] as a victim of gender-based discrimination, without being able to point to specific facts.”

In this context, the groups noted the replacement of Zurabishvili’s image by male leaders of Georgian Dream on the second round campaign posters, and her low-key campaign for the second round, saying that such moves “damage the ideals of gender equality and further marginalize female politicians”.

“We call on all elections stakeholders, especially the ruling party Georgian Dream, to be more gender sensitive, refrain from presenting Presidential Candidate Salome Zurabishvili as a victim, a weaker politician compared to men; and not to strengthen gender stereotypes towards female politicians,” the organizations added.

For the second round of the election campaign, Salome Zurabishvili’s campaign has been backed up more heavily by the ruling Georgian Dream party. A number of new billboards were placed and new video ads were aired recently, where Salome Zurabishvili’s image has been replaced by Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze. The ruling party explained it as part of its new strategy in the lead up to runoffs.

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