GD, Girchi Deal to Abolish Women’s Quotas

The ruling Georgian Dream and the parliamentary opposition Girchi party struck a deal envisaging the support of the ruling GD to Girchi’s initiative on cancelation of women’s quotas from the party lists of the parliamentary elections. The current version of the Election Code provides that at least one in every four persons on any party list must be a woman.

In exchange, Girchi is to vote in favor of the GD candidate for the position of Central Electoral Commission (CEC) Chairperson, or as GD MP Beka Davituliani put it Girchi promised that “when its comes to the election of the CEC Chairperson, they will focus on his/her [of the candidate] integrity and the professionalism, and [the topic] will not be used for the realization of certain private political issues.” The Parliament will consider the draft law in an accelerated manner.

The Georgian Women’s Movement, a group of human rights and gender equality activists, and the Public Defender of Georgia issued statements denouncing the bill, initiated by the party Girchi and supported by the ruling Georgian Dream party, that would abolish mandatory gender quotas for electoral party lists.

“There were no prerequisites for abolishing gender quotas. Such initiatives are a fight, not only against female politicians, but against all women living in this country,” the Georgian Women’s Movement said, adding that “we, the female electorate, declare an uncompromising fight against the expulsion of women from the Parliament with the motive of including more millionaire men in the election lists, whose only goal is to protect their own business interests, not to protect the interests of the people.”

The Public Defender of Georgia assesses the bill negatively. “With the planned legislative changes, we are ignoring the results of the long struggle of women and worsening the existing mechanisms for achieving equality.”

Nino Tsilosani, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and the Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Gender Equality Council from the ruling Georgian Dream party published a statement on behalf of the female MPs from the parlimentary majority, saying that “it is clear that mandatory quotas are a temporary measure for women’s political empowerment, and not the only way. This is a form of positive discrimination, which to a certain extent has already achieved its main task – the number of women involved in politics has increased and women’s issues have become a relevant part of the agenda.”

According to Tsilosani, “our political team remains committed to the principles that we supported during this period” and the party will use “every opportunity” to empower women with its own initiatives and internal party democracy.

Meanwhile, in February 2023 the Georgian Parliament extended the period of validity of gender quotas in proportional party lists until 2032. In addition, the amendments stipulated that every fourth person on the proportional party lists for the elections scheduled for October 26, 2024, as well as for the next parliamentary elections scheduled before 2028, should be a woman (not, as it was specified before, “a person of another sex”). Initially, the gender quotas were voted down by the Parliament in 2018. In 2020, the Parliament endorsed the electoral amendments which, among other things, introduced the effective 25% gender quotas for party lists.

This article was updated on 02/04/2024 at 15:56 to reflect the statement published by MP Tsilosani.

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