The intersection of religious Freedom and women’s rights
In conversation with MP Tina Bokuchava from Georgia
Breaking barriers and engaging with the contentious theme of women rights and religious freedom in Georgia, a country in the Caucasus region, MP Tina Bokuchava believes that ‘motivated individuals can make a huge difference in the national narrative’.
Having joined Georgian politics in 2012, MP Tina Bokuchava soon realised that not only was there low female representation within the political machinery in her country but also a lack of dialogue and engagement with women’s rights.
‘Unfortunately, women’s representation in Georgian politics is really low. We have about 11 percent in municipal councils and about 15 percent in the national legislature’, she said.
As someone who believes in doing more than just her parliamentary duties and activities, Tina always looked for opportunities where she could make a difference. To this end, she founded the United National Movement’s (UNM) Women’s Organization in 2013.
‘The idea stemmed from giving a separate platform to women to advocate for women’s issues within the political party as well as outside of it.’
As part of the UNM, a Georgian opposition political party that Tina represents in Parliament, the UNM Women’s Organization is the largest political women’s organisation in the country.
‘We unite very driven and passionate women all over Georgia. We have over 30 municipal organisations that fight for a European future in Georgia’, she added.
A future for FoRB and Women
Dialogue, passion and empowerment of women are key to Tina and the organisation she heads. The contentious history and relationship between women’s rights and FoRB makes Tina even more determined to work on this intersection.
‘Women tend to disproportionately be discriminated against when it comes to a whole range of rights and FoRB is no exception in that regard. When looked through the prism of gender, women tend to always be more discriminated than men’, she explained.
When asked to elaborate on her plans for the future, Tina envisions to bring together FoRB and women’s rights within this organisation.
‘I have been fortunate enough to meet with different colleagues through the IPPFoRB network who work very closely with this intersection and I hope to take this further with the assistance of IPPFoRB.’
Amongst other things, Tina is also focused on highlighting and bringing to forefront best practices in her country and globally.
‘I had the privilege of working with IPPFoRB for the first time in Bucharest and then the study mission to Nepal. I really got to delve into the meat of the problem and find solutions’, she said.
She explained, ‘if we were to look at various countries, we would find that a lot of time issues are very common. Across the various continents, the essence of the problem and the prejudices we are dealing with are similar.’
For her, there are three forms of best practices that she has come across in her political career:
‘First, identify agents of change who will drive these issues forward, second, IPPFoRB conferences and platforms that help connect individuals where the power of learning is strong and third, fact-finding missions such as the one I took in Nepal where governments are approached in a non-confrontational manner and discussions are carefully framed.’
When asked from where she gets this motivation for FoRB, Tina replies with a smile, ‘It’s a matter of individual freedom, which is at the very core of governance and above that, it is at the core of humanity’