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