UNIFEM and its partner organization, the Women's Information Center, have organized a series of meetings in cooperation with local authorities and government bodies in Georgia, to facilitate the delivery of effective assistance to internally displaced and conflict-affected women and their families.
The initiative forms part of the UNIFEM project “Women for Equality, Peace and Development in Georgia” (WEPD). The meetings give conflict-affected women the opportunity to voice their concerns directly with representatives from government agencies and other decision-makers, with the assistance of WEPD project staff, in order to receive prompt response and redress.
The first meeting took place on 3 June in Gori in Shida Qartli region, where approximately 22,000 individuals were displaced after the armed conflict in August 2008, in addition to about 11,000 internally displaced persons from the early 1990s conflict over South Ossetia. At the meeting, the cases of 20 conflict-affected women were discussed, following a documentation of their concerns on social and legal issues, healthcare, housing and education.
Tamar Latsabidze, a 55 year-old woman from Gori, was one of the displaced women who described their difficult conditions. Tamar thanked the municipality of Gori for providing her with temporary shelter, but asked for support to rebuild her house that was damaged in the 2008 conflict. “My villagers expressed their readiness to help me with the construction work if the building materials were provided. This could be the only chance for me to go back to my village and community, where I have spent my whole life,” Tamar said. In response, an official from the municipality pledged to allocate some building materials and assist Tamar to return home.
The second meeting was held on 1 July in the city of Rustavi in Qvemo Qartli. The region has more than 19,500 internally displaced persons, with around 5,000 living in Rustavi. The meeting considered the cases of eight women, who had been identified by WEPD project staff and their concerns documented.
In both regions, the meetings were organized with the participation of local municipalities and regional administrative branches of relevant government ministries, including the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs.
“Through such meetings we try to facilitate dialogue between the rights-holders and the duty-bearers; internally displaced women can talk directly to all the relevant authorities in one place. These types of meetings are very important for eliminating barriers and giving opportunity to displaced and conflict-affected families to directly speak to those who make decisions,” noted Tamar Tavartkiladze, WEPD Project Manager.
Within the framework of WEPD, UNIFEM will organize similar meetings in all five target regions of the project - Imereti, Samegrelo and Tbilisi, in addition to Shida Qartli and Qvemo Qartli.