DWO Launches New Project Aimed at Reducing Early Marriage and Gender-based Violence in Samtskhe-Javakheti

The Democrat Women’s Organization of Samtskhe-Javakheti (DWO), with support from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) is pleased to announce the launch of a new project: Achieving Gender Equality in Samtskhe-Javakheti: Empowering Women and Girls (and Male Allies) to Defend Their Human Rights and Fight Against Early Marriage and Gender-based Violence.

The project, set to launch on August 1, 2019 and end on February 28, 2020, will continue to build on the organization’s previous successes promoting gender equality and combating gender-based violence in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. Specifically, the project will focus on reducing rates of early marriage and gender-based violence in the communities of Akhaltsikhe, Adigeni, and Akhalkalaki. 

According to the 2014 UNFP report “Child Marriage in Georgia (Overview)”, Georgia has one of the highest rates of child marriage among European countries, with approximately 17% of Georgian women marrying before the age of 18. In the 2017 National Study on Violence Against Women conducted by UN Women, the highest reported rates of intimate partner violence were in Tbilisi and Samtskhe-Javakheti.

The 2016 Public Defender’s Office of Georgia report, “Special Report Early Marriages: Challenges and Solutions”, states that low public awareness of the illegal nature of child marriage, and of the consequences of child marriage as well as the lack of trust in authorities among rural and ethnic minorities communities, are some the biggest challenges in preventing early marriage. 

There are three main project activities to help reduce early marriage and gender-based violence: 

  1. Education and Skills Development Training for Gender Equality Advocates
  2. Community Action Projects by Gender Equality Advocates
  3. Public Awareness Campaign

Sixty (60) Georgian and Armenian women, men, and teenage girls and boys will be selected as Gender Equality Advocates and receive training on the topics of gender equality, early marriage, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health.  They will also participate in skills development workshops on community organizing/social mobilization, effective communications and leadership.  

Once training is completed, the Gender Equality Advocates will conduct six community action projects in Akhaltsikhe, Adigeni, and Akhalkalaki. The community action projects will focus on educating community members in rural villages and towns about the topics of early marriage, gender-based violence, and gender equality.  They will also collaborate with the local government to address these issues. 

DWO will run a public awareness campaign to educate the general public about these topics through print and social media as well as TV and radio ads.  A conference will be held for leaders in government, education, law enforcement, and religious institutions to discuss these topics and ways to reduce early marriage and gender-based violence in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region.  Community members will also be able to participate in public information sessions, discussion groups and rallies to increase their understanding of these issues and learn how they can play a role in helping to stop early marriage and gender-based violence. 

DWO would like to express its gratitude to the people and government of Canada for their generous contribution towards our work in combating these critical issues in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. 

The Democrat Women’s Organization of Samtskhe-Javakheti, (DWO), is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working across communities, ethnicities, and religions to provide a full range of services to advance women’s physical, domestic and civic health. Founded in 1998 and officially registered in 2001, DWO supports women in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region through its women’s health clinic, its shelter for victims of domestic violence and programs to promote women’s civic and political empowerment. To learn more about our work, visit our website at www.dwo.ge