Equality Now has the privilege to partner with women’s rights activists from around the world. We’re sharing their unique perspectives and challenges advocating for change in their communities. We spoke to, Baia Pataria from Union Sapari in Georgia as part of a series highlighting activists across Eurasia, where we’re working with women’s rights groups to hold governments accountable for ending sexual violence and ensuring access to justice.
Baia Pataraia is a human rights lawyer and civil activist. Since 2013 she chairs the women’s organization “Sapari”. In 2014 Baia Pataraia founded the Georgian Women’s Movement, an informal group consists up to 3000 women, who perform various advocacy activities and campaigns, including street demonstrations, performances, and social campaigns. The movement is very successful when it comes to lobbying for legislative changes and conducting wide awareness-raising campaigns on women’s rights. In 2009-2013 Baia worked at the Ministry of Justice of Georgia in various managerial positions. Since 2008 has been a visiting lecturer at various universities in Georgia. Since 2011 in cooperation with international organizations and national training centers Baia Pataraia as a national expert trains judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and activists on gender issues, gender-based violence and discrimination, gender mainstreaming, and advocacy.
I mostly work with victims of gender-based violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and victims of gender-based discrimination. Generally, we try to strengthen women politically and economically as well. We have a specific approach to educate younger girls to make them more resilient towards all forms of gender discrimination and harassment.
What is the current situation in Georgia, and what challenges do you face in your work?
The society in Georgia is very patriarchal, so we have to work hard on perceptions of gender roles and combat deeply ingrained stereotypes. Before every legislative change, we have to persuade society of the existence of the problem and its gendered nature. The women’s movement is quite strong in Georgia. Activists and groups are capable of bringing women’s issues to the political agenda. Stereotypical attitudes are changing slowly but the progress is visible.
What is the most important reform or action that the government in your country should do to improve the situation for women and girls?
At this moment the most acute problem lies with the definition of rape, which is not based on lack of consent, so is not in line with Istanbul Convention.
What are some of the achievements made by your organization in the last five years?
We won the very first case of sexual harassment and this strategic litigation served well for the adoption of regulations on sexual harassment.
In addition, together with the task force on political participation, we were able to adopt mandatory gender quotas in proportional party lists.