Maka Meshveliani, NDI’s 2015 Andi Parhamovich Fellow, came to Washington, D.C., with a mission.
“Helping more women get elected in Georgia are both personal and professional passions of mine that luckily coincide,” said Meshveliani, a senior program officer in NDI’s Georgia office.
She sat down for an interview in which she describes herself as “invested” in championing women in politics.
Established in 2007, the Andi Parhamovich Fellowship is an annual award that brings one woman from an NDI in-country office, or local organization that has collaborated with NDI, to Washington, D.C., for three months to conduct research for a project geared toward advancing democracy and increasing women’s political participation in her own country. The award was named after NDI staff member Andi Parhamovich, who was killed in Iraq in 2007.
Through the fellowship, Meshveliani is helping women’s groups in Georgia sharpen their public communications and messaging. “Women’s political participation is a very technical term, so we need to find ways to speak to the hearts and minds of the general public so that they join the cause,” said Meshveliani.
Currently in Georgia, 12 percent of members of parliament are women and only 11 percent of positions in local government are held by women. According to Meshveliani, those are some of the lowest figures compared to European countries. “For the past 25 years, Georgia has been in the low numbers when it comes to women’s political participation,” she said.
But there are encouraging signs. According to NDI public opinion surveys, Georgians overwhelmingly favor having more women hold elected positions. And recently, there has been a legislative push for a mandatory gender quota to increase the number of women elected leaders.
Meshveliani stressed that while quotas are a good first step, there needs to be an emphasis on structural factors, such as improving education and addressing repressive social norms.
Watch the full interview.
Published on May 7, 2015