Casus Zurabishvili: Why Is It Not Enough For The President To Be A Woman

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Casus Zurabishvili: Why Is It Not Enough For The President To Be A Woman
Casus Zurabishvili: Why Is It Not Enough For The President To Be A Woman
Video: Casus Zurabishvili: Why Is It Not Enough For The President To Be A Woman
Video: Georgia: Georgia's first female president Zurabishvili assumes office 2023, February
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Dmitry Kurkin

"For the first time a woman has been elected President of Georgia" - you didn't have to be a visionary to predict what the headlines about Salome Zurabishvili's victory would be. The gender issue inevitably came to the fore, although this is far from the only angle from which the election race can be viewed (opposition leader Grigol Vashadze was in the lead for a long time, and now his supporters dispute the results, accusing rivals of pressure on the electorate and the use of administrative resources) or a figure the newly elected president - candidates from the ruling party; a French-born woman with Georgian roots, who was treated with prejudice in her historical homeland for a long time; a politician who is considered by some experts to be a pro-Kremlin henchman, despite her statements about rapprochement with Europe. But these layouts later, in the further paragraphs - and the first will go "woman-president". Even though historically women, from Queen Tamara to Nino Burjanadze, have played an important role in Georgian politics.

The emphasis on gender is generally understandable. The gender imbalance in politics is still too great to be ignored: according to the UN, in June 2016, the proportion of women among parliamentarians worldwide was only 22.8 percent - twice as much as twenty years ago, but still very far from any parity. Meanwhile, gender equality in societies is primarily a matter of power, including political power. Therefore, any woman elected as a national leader is expected by default to make statements on the “women's agenda”. “The first woman president in the history of the country” is not so much a line in a biography as a projected responsibility: if not a woman in power will stand up for women's rights, then who else?

The “female factor” still strongly influences the outcome of the election - if Hillary Clinton was a man, her campaign in the conservative states could have developed much more successfully. At the same time, over the past half century, women in high politics, if they have not achieved equality, have certainly ceased to be exotic. Since the time of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the first woman to become the head of her country (Sri Lanka) as a result of elections, and not inherited power, women have managed to be prime ministers and presidents in more than seventy countries of the world. And if before the figures of Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher were themselves the rarest exceptions, and their biographies were a ready-made basis for inspiring stories, then in 2018 it would be time to abandon the feigned surprise and admiration of the “woman in politics”.

And it's not just that among women who have been world leaders, there are enough conservatives who have adopted the rules of the game and rhetoric from their male colleagues (“Freeing women is one big stupidity. This is men discriminated against. They cannot bear children, and hardly someone will be able to do something about it”, - the words, which can be suspected of some Facebook troll, actually belong to Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel), although they also create an unhealthy climate that supports internal misogyny, because of which women not only do not win elections - they are even afraid to participate in them.

Share of women in power

not that strongly correlates with the real power of women

or improving their rights

The precedents for the election of a woman as head of state are important - both because each of these examples adds a crack to the "glass sheet", and because the more often women appear at summits, the more normal the situation when a woman is at the helm of the country (or, as in the case of New Zealand Premier Jacinda Ardern, working mother).And vice versa, when no one in the country in all seriousness considers it possible for a woman to be elected president (as in today's Russia), this speaks of gender inequality more than any numbers of representativeness.

Speaking of numbers, statistical calculations should not be misleading. The share of women in power is not that strongly correlated with the real power of women or the improvement of their rights. The record for women's representation in parliament (more than two-thirds of the seats) has recently been held by Rwanda, a country that remains one of the worst in the world in terms of respect for basic human rights.

The emphasis on the gender of the president or prime minister (hello to recent reports on Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic) suggests that sexist bias in politics is still considered the norm and will not be eradicated soon. Just being a woman politician in the 21st century is no longer enough. At the level of national politics, the person in power should be asked about business - regardless of gender (or, for that matter, sexuality and ethnicity: Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, openly gay with Indian roots, is a perfect example of how belonging to minorities can be combined with fairly conservative political views). In many cases, it turns out to be less important than other nuances of the political background, party registration and public statements on key issues. After all, there are enough women politicians in Russia, but the deputies and authors of discriminatory laws Elena Mizulina, Irina Yarovaya or Irina Rodnina will hardly be remembered because of their gender.

Photos: Mikhail Japaridze / TASS

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