Georgia’s Election Commission Develops Draft Gender Policy with IFES Support
The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia requested the International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) support to develop a gender policy. The policy was drafted by CEC members, with support from the IFES Georgia staff members Vladimer Mkervalishvilli and Gvantsa Tugushi and IFES Senior Gender Specialist Jessica Huber.
As a first step, meetings were held with members of the election management body (EMB), including the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and other CEC Commissioners. The CEC Chairperson, Tamar Zhavania, outlined her goals for the policy. She envisioned the CEC moving from activity-based gender programming to process-based and strategic work toward gender equality and women’s empowerment in the electoral process in Georgia.
IFES also consulted with various members of the CEC including Commissioners, Heads of Departments and members of the CEC’s Gender Equality Council, an informal group, led by Zurab Khrikadze. Additionally, IFES facilitated a civil society-CEC dialogue session. Feedback from these sessions underscored ownership and implementation as key to the success of a gender policy as a living, active policy, including specific concerns, actions and needs of the CEC. For example, including the existing mechanisms of the CEC to address gender equality, such as the Gender Equality Council, the CEC Summer Schools and a grants competition will shape the document into a CEC-specific policy.
While the standard language in the policy reads, “build capacity of CEC Commissioners, senior management, and all CEC staff around basic gender concepts, gender analysis and mainstreaming approaches,” this language is anchored in the specific experience of the CEC’s work on gender equality, and reflects the discussion held.
This session outlined in broad strokes the following areas of concern, which became the basis for the Gender Equality Policy:
- CEC staff capacity to create an environment of equal participation for women and men
- Ensuring the internal policies and practices of the CEC support all staff
- Relationships with external stakeholders on gender equality
Khirkadze presented the contents of a final draft of the CEC Gender Equality Policy to his colleagues at the CEC, who agreed to formally adopt the policy once it had been taken to various regions of Georgia for review. In the closing session, IFES Gender Specialist Jessica Huber said, “A gender policy helps the CEC deliver the best possible electoral process because it provides important support to efforts by the CEC to have free, fair, inclusive and transparent elections. This document reflects your priorities, as well as concerns raised by the civil society community in Georgia.”
IFES Georgia Chief of Party Nermin Nisic closed the session by emphasizing the role IFES played in assisting the CEC and that ownership of this document is squarely with the CEC, who contributed the details that make up the policy. He also underscored that “you are not alone in incorporating the policy into your everyday work,” and that IFES was standing by to support the CEC in the implementation of the Gender Equality Policy.