In celebration of Women’s History Month, EWMI’s Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia project (PROLoG) had planned to unveil a new mural in Marneuli designed to represent and support local girls and women living in the city. The unveiling of the mural was anticipated as the backdrop for the Women’s Empowerment Forum, during which women from different backgrounds (military, the police, the judiciary, art, and media, among others) would speak about overcoming discrimination, barriers related to women's employment, and their work in a socio-economic context. However, around 30 activities planned by PROLoG and its partners in celebration of Women’s History Month were cancelled due to safety measures and restrictions put place in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Faced with a tough reality as a result of the pandemic, EWMI’s PROLoG immediately sought solutions. In particular, as the aim of the project is to protect human rights through strengthening the justice system, the PROLoG team did not want their work to be disrupted. After shifting to remote work on March 16, the team began adapting their activities to online formats where possible. Ultimately, the idea for W-Talks arose as a result of the delayed mural and the Women’s Empowerment Forum.
W-Talks, or Women Talks, is a series of livestreamed Facebook discussions in which women from different professions and backgrounds speak openly about their personal experiences and the challenges and barriers they have faced in their careers. By sharing their stories, they empower others. W-Talks aims to explain the challenges faced by women and why it is important to protect the rights of women and girls in language that is easy to understand. W-Talks is hosted by Ana Abashidze, a lawyer, human rights activist, and head of the NGO Partnership for Human Rights. In order to comply with COVID-19-related safety measures, W-Talks are fully remote, with participants joining from their homes or workplaces.
EWMI’s PROLoG has held six W-Talks since April 2, with nearly 77,000 people viewing the livestreams (and the number increases daily). During these episodes, Ana and the featured guests spoke about equality in the judicial system, challenges in the field of sports, the rights of the women with disabilities, and women in law enforcement. On the most recent W-Talks discussion, Elizabeth Rood, the Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, spoke about her career path and women in the field of diplomacy.
One of the key goals of the W-Talks is to ensure that women’s voices are heard through discussions that are accessible to people of all ages, gender, and statuses, regardless of their location. During each W-Talk, the audience also has an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts or ideas, with the hope that the discussions create a space for mutual understanding between people with different views.
PROLoG will hold four more W-Talks before the middle of May, with featured guests from the fields of medicine, media, art, and politics:
- April 28: Dr. Madona Jugeli, President of the Georgian Federation of Colposcopy
- May 1: Natela Grigalashvili, photographer
- May 6: Inga Grigolia, journalist and Director of TV Pirveli
- May 8: Tamar Chugoshvili, Member of Parliament and former Chair of the Gender Equality Council
Despite its severe impact, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided PROLoG with space to reconsider certain issues and create new opportunities. As a result, the team is confident that once they return to their ‘routine’, they will continue to work with broader experience and new and more interesting ideas. As restrictions loosen, PROLoG will continue working with Tina Chertova, the Georgian illustrator, artist, and feminist who worked with PROLoG to create the posters for W-Talks and the illustration for the mural to be painted in Marneuli, to ensure that the mural is completed in honor of women and girls.