“We are single mothers, women migrants, women in low-paid jobs. We fall victims of abuse at work. We face discrimination in property rights. We carry an unequal burden of housework. We live next to you. Listen to us. Talk to us. Change the reality.”
These messages were scribbled on a torn-out page of an old-fashioned wall calendar. On the other side there was a hand-written invitation. The address indicated a residential building in the old neighbourhood of Georgia’s capitol, Tbilisi.
At the given time, on a sunny September afternoon, the intrigued guests who arrived at the traditional courtyard of the building were met by the organisers of the campaign “We Need Equality” and guided to the House of Women – an apartment turned into a performance space, inhabited by the campaign heroines.
There was a real person with a real story in each of the rooms: Sopo, a single mother of three, who struggles to find a day job because of the housework burden; Tatia, the first woman in Georgia who filed a law suit accusing her boss of sexual harassment; and Tsitsino, a carpenter who cannot expand her small enterprise because she doesn’t own a property that she could pledge as a guarantee for a business loan. The last room was dedicated to the women who left the country for economic reasons. The space was dominated by a huge screen displaying an emotional virtual conversation between a migrant mother and her daughter.
The visibly moved audience was then invited back to the courtyard where the host of the House of Women, a renowned Georgian actor Nata Murvanidze, together with the heroes of the performance, hung big white sheets with slogans on a wire. The symbolic washing read: “We need a law on sexual harassment”, “Wage gap is unfair. Let’s change it”, “Women and men need to share the burden of domestic work” and simply “We Need Equality”.
“Currently, Georgia faces 35% gender pay gap, alarming statistics of gender-based violence and low participation of women in economic and political life. On the other hand, the estimates say that if women were fully exploring their potential, the country’s GDP would grow by at least 10 percent,” Tuya Altangerel, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Georgia, said.