Georgia: Nino Elbakidze, lawyer and women’s rights advocate

Nino Elbakidze, lawyer and women’s rights advocate in Georgia

A member of the human rights organisation ‘Article 42 of the Constitution’, Nino Elbakidze is committed to educating women in Georgia about their legal rights and how to assert them. Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is advising on legal and judicial reform in the South Caucasus. Together with ‘Article 42’, it has published a manual on women’s rights and trained more than 1,000 women as multipliers.

What does it actually say in Article 42 of the Georgian constitution – your organisation’s namesake?

Article 42 is about every citizen’s right to assert their rights before a court of law and to have the defence of a lawyer. As a human rights organisation, we offer victims of human rights violations free legal assistance. We also organise further training and conduct surveys and studies.

Your main target group is women. What is the situation like for them in Georgia?

In the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2013, Georgia was ranked only 86th out of the 136 countries reviewed. Women in Georgia continue to be more socially disadvantaged. Domestic violence and women’s rights to inheritance and property are major issues. Married women with children are respected whereas single women have a hard time in this conservative society. There are very few women in influential positions and only ten per cent of the country’s parliamentary MPs are women.

Where do you start to help?

I try to make women understand that we are all equal before the law. I often advise on family disputes. As a female lawyer I have a lot of female clients who want a divorce but who do not know how to retain custody of their children and separate their assets.

What does your work mean to you?

A strong society needs strong women who stand up for their rights and those of their families. I consider my work to be meaningful and I have the feeling that I am needed. I see the fruit of my labour when I educate my clients and seminar students about their rights and see how this makes them more self-assured.

What do you wish for the women of Georgia?

I hope that one day our training courses will no longer be necessary in Georgia.


        
    
Nino Elbakidze specialises in family law. At her organisation’s office she advises a client fighting for child maintenance payments.
Nino Elbakidze specialises in family law. At her organisation’s office she advises a client fighting for child maintenance payments.

        
    
Husbands who want a divorce also seek her advice on legal matters. Photos: Vakhtang Kuntsev Gabashvili
Husbands who want a divorce also seek her advice on legal matters. Photos: Vakhtang Kuntsev Gabashvili

        
    
Lawyers amongst themselves: Legal professionals meet in the conference room of the NGO ‘Article 42 of the Constitution’ to discuss legal texts.
Lawyers amongst themselves: Legal professionals meet in the conference room of the NGO ‘Article 42 of the Constitution’ to discuss legal texts.

        
    
Elbakidze uses a practical exercise to teach her course participants about relevant human rights.
Elbakidze uses a practical exercise to teach her course participants about relevant human rights.

        
    
At the training courses, women learn about their rights. They then apply this new knowledge in their professional and private lives.
At the training courses, women learn about their rights. They then apply this new knowledge in their professional and private lives.

        
    
Nino Elbakidze’s legal advice is in great demand. Here a neighbour discusses a problem with her.
Nino Elbakidze’s legal advice is in great demand. Here a neighbour discusses a problem with her.

        
    
Lawyer Elbakidze sees a particular need for action in rural areas especially and says, ‘We have to better educate women there about their rights.’
Lawyer Elbakidze sees a particular need for action in rural areas especially and says, ‘We have to better educate women there about their rights.’