Since Georgia’s independence in 1991, the participation of women in Georgian politics has been very low. The number of women in government has diminished since 2004 and currently women comprise only 6% of the Georgian parliament. The reasons behind such statistics can vary from cultural to institutional factors. Cultural factors including gender stereotypes are more fundamental and difficult to change while institutional factors can be constructed through a variety of mechanisms (e.g., introducing quota systems, changing the electoral system, nomination methods within political parties, or increasing political funds for women). This blog looks at public opinion in Georgia on one aspect of women’s participation in Georgian politics--women in parliament. CRRC data from a 2011 survey on Voting and Political Attitudes in Georgia indicates that while just over half of the Georgian population would vote for a woman candidate (all things being equal) and think that men and women perform equally on elected positions, 31% of Georgians still find the number of women in parliament about right.
The 2011 (September) survey conducted by CRRC on behalf of NDI asked Georgians whether or not women perform better than men. Just over half (56%) of Georgians answered that women and men perform equally and 21% said men perform better than women. Examining the data by gender does not change the general picture much, but it still provides some additional information regarding attitudes.
As the chart above shows, over half of both men and women think that men and women perform equally. However compared to men, women are slightly more likely do so. On the other hand, compared to women, men are more likely to think that men perform better than women. This data indicates that women in Georgia are more likely to think that women and men perform equally in politics while men remain more sceptical towards women in parliament. This trend is supported by answers to the next question.
The general picture is that 68% of Georgians say they would vote for a woman candidate in the next parliamentary elections all things being equal, 15% say no and 17% do not know. However, as the chart shows, women are again more likely to vote for a women candidate (all things being equal) than men.
Even though over half of Georgians (irrespective of their gender) are positive that men and women perform equally and would vote for a woman candidate in the next parliamentary elections, their attitude regarding the current number of women in parliament is confusing. Evidence from CRRC data indicates that 31% of Georgians find the current number of women members of parliament (9 out of 150) about right and 23% do not know whether this is too few, too many or about right.
Examining the data by gender revealed only one difference in the “too few” category. Compared to men (34%), more women (43%) think that the number of women members of parliament is too few. This fits well into the general trend that compared to men, women are more likely to view men’s and women’s political performance as equal.
This data shows Georgian attitudes towards women in parliament to be a bit ambiguous. Over half of Georgians think women and men perform equally and they would vote for a women candidate (all things being equal), yet only 31% think that 9 women out of 150 members of parliament are too few. Why do you think this is the case? Is the low level of women’s participation in Georgian politics a matter of institutions or is it culture that determines such numbers? We would like to hear your thoughts.
Interested in finding out more about gender attitudes in the South Caucasus? CRRC has got lots of data on gender related issues and it is available and free for you on our Online Data Analysis tool. Try it out!