Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Georgia: Women Take Lead in Informal Peace-Building
Whenever Georgian and Russian officials meet in Geneva for formal talks as part of a process that has continued since the August 2008 war, few women are visible.
In 2011, Georgia adopted a “national action plan” to enhance female participation in peace-building efforts, so that women attend the Geneva talks, albeit still in small numbers.
At an informal level, it is a different story. Women’s organisations from Georgia, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia have been reaching out to each other and talking about reconciliation for the last two decades.
As deputy minister for reconciliation, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili has been part of the formal talks process but she says the government also recognises the value of people-to-people contacts, sometimes called “track-two diplomacy”.
She says certain groups are particularly open to cross-boundary communication – professionals, people with relatives on the other side, and the mothers of those who died in conflict. “Because they’ve lived through the worse, they appreciate peace and reconciliation more than anybody else,” she said of these mothers.
According to Tsikhelashvili, the key is to find common interests and acknowledge the needs of the other side without getting into the politics of conflict.
“We have to work through the barbed wire and tanks for public diplomacy,” she said.
Heather Yundt produced this, the second edition of Behind the Headlines, a radio programme made by IWPR Georgia.
The programme is part of IWPR’s Building Bridges/Building Capacity in the South Caucasus programme, funded by the Norwegian foreign ministry. The contents of the programme do not reflect the views of the funder.
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