TBILISI -- Activists in Georgia have demanded that parliament pass a law on mandatory gender quotas in the national legislature and city councils.
Representatives of civil society groups gathered outside parliament on March 8, which is marked in the former Soviet republic as International Women’s Day, and urged lawmakers to support a bill aimed at establishing gender parity in the assemblies.
They said they were acting on behalf of more than 100 nongovernmental organizations.
A draft bill was outlined in 2017 by the Task Force on Women’s Political Participation, a coalition of domestic and international NGOs.
Among other things, it would establish a "zipper" mechanism in which political parties' candidate lists would alternate between men and women.
That would mean, for example, that if a party were to win eight seats in parliament, four would be filled by women and four by men.
Three parliamentary committees approved the draft bill last fall, but it must be approved by a parliamentary review body before it can be put to a vote.
On March 7, a group of Tbilisi-based foreign ambassadors said they are closely following the situation surrounding gender equality in Georgia, calling the bill “timely.”
“We take note of the legislative initiative supported by more than 37,000 citizens of Georgia which, if passed, would significantly increase representation of women in elected bodies at all levels," the Ambassadorial Working Group (AWG) said.
The group, which unites diplomatic missions in Georgia, said the proposed legislation would "help Georgia to bring women’s voices more prominently into political discourse."
It “would also bring Georgia into better compliance with...the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women when it comes to women’s political participation,” the AWG said.