FACULTY OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL SCIENCES
MEN AND GENDER RELATIONS IN GEORGIA
Although gender balance is a concept often evoked today, in Georgia there is still a strict division of male and female duties and activities. Indeed, 86% of men and 72% of women are happy with their duties according to results of a study “Men and gender relations in Georgia”, carried out by the Institute of Social Studies and Analysis (ISSA) with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2013. The Project Supervisor, Professor Iago Kachkachishvili pointed out that the aim of the project was to learn women’s and men’s attitudes towards gender equality--their experience and engagement in domestic chores and social practices that require coexistence and shared experience with their spouse or partner.
The study used quantitative and qualitative research methods. Qualitative methods included focus group work to determine empirical indicators of gender equality. The general unit of the qualitative study was the Georgian population over 18 years old; 2,408 respondents participated overall. Respondents were also interviewed through direct interviews and questionnaires in eleven regions of Georgia.
Men’s engagement in domestic chores and activities
According to the results, the distribution of domestic chores such as doing the laundry, cleaning the house, cleaning the bathroom/toilet, cooking meals and caring for children are all considered to be women’s duties. However, repairing household items is considered to be a man’s duty. The study showed that the model for distributing domestic chores is based on behaviour learned during adolescence. During adolescence most girls (85-92%) are taught how to do “female” chores. Activities that boys are encouraged to learn include observing personal hygiene, agricultural duties, cleaning the yard and taking care of younger siblings. Today men’s engagement in domestic activities is consistent with these respondents’ attitudes and expectations. These practices were evaluated on the basis of the stories of the respondents, who are married or live with a partner. A significant aspect of the evaluation was the comparison of women’s and men’s stories.
Men are mostly engaged in the following activities: repairing household items ( according to 90% men and 84% women), paying the bills (84% men and 76% women) and buying groceries (30% men and 19% women). According to the respondents, men take part much less in housecleaning (tasks as perceived by 20% of men and 11% of women) and preparing food (as perceived by 30% of men and 19% of women). They take part least of all in cleaning the bathroom/toilet (as perceived by 18% men and 11% of women).
Men’s involvement in raising children
Interviews revealed that men and women do not take a common responsibility for the children. From the very beginning of domestic life, household chores (in Georgia this includes child-rearing) are considered a woman’s duty.
Fathers never cook meals, change diapers or bathe their children under six years old in 30-42% of families. Childcare, for fathers, usually entails duties not connected with the bathroom, the kitchen or outside the house. Their activities consist mainly of playing or talking with their children, entertaining them and reading books to them. However, apart from playing or talking to their child, fathers engage in other activities only a few times a month--not on a daily basis. The percentage of men who perform everyday duties for their children under 6---such as preparing meals, changing clothes or diapers, bathing them, taking them to school or kindergarten, entertaining or reading to them--does not exceed 18%.
Fathers of children 7 to 12 are more inclined to play with them rather than talk to them only, as was the case for those with children 6 and under. This is the only activity in which the majority of fathers--81%--engage daily. Fathers’ everyday involvement does not exceed 7%, however, when it comes to activities like preparing meals, washing clothes and reading books to their children. When it comes to children aged 7 – 12, a maximum of 34% of fathers play with their children. take them to school, help with their homework, prepare meals, wash clothes or communicate with the school teacher -- once a week to several times a month.
Fathers’ participation in raising children aged 13-18 is even lower than for other children’s age groups. The share of men’s everyday involvement in activities like choosing books to read for adolescents, talking to teachers, helping with their homework and washing clothes does not exceed 5 %.
Attitudes towards gender equality
The study shows that the divisions of social roles are distinctly marked along gender lines, giving individuals specific duties and responsibilities. More exactly, the existence of gender roles is acceptable for most of the respondents. These include:
- Taking care of the family is considered to be a woman’s main duty (89% of men and women agree).
- Taking care of children (changing diapers, bathing and feeding) is a woman’s responsibility (77%).
- A man is entitled to the last word in the family (78%--however there is a significant difference between men and women: 70% of women and 88% of men agree).
- A woman’s responsibility is to put up with verbal abuse from husband and family members in order to keep peace in the family.
Men and women are similar in their attitudes towards birth control, as 70% think that women are responsible for protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancy (69% of men and 71% of women agree with the statement). Most (76%) believe that women and men should decide together on the type of contraception– 74% of men and 77% of women. Only 28% of the respondents (30% men, 27% women) say that it would be unacceptable for them if their spouse asked them to use condoms.
According to 56% of those surveyed (64% men, 49% women), it is shameful for a man not to have an erection while having intercourse and 56% believe that men need sex more than women. This figure was close, however, with 57% of men and 55% of women agreeing with the latter.
Patriarchal stereotypes are strong in attitudes towards sexual roles. Attitudes towards homosexuals—male or female--are strongly negative, and attitudes towards the social representation of sexual minorities are similarly negative--with 73% of the respondents saying they find it uncomfortable to be around a homosexual person. Only 8.3% believe that homosexuality is a normal phenomenon, and only 14.8% think that homosexual men and women should have the right to work with children, while 73% believe they shouldn’t. Attitudes towards homosexual mean and women’s right to adoption is only 11.7% positive, and only 8% agree with the statement that homosexual couples should be allowed to marry. Most (72%) stated that they would be ashamed if their child was a homosexual.
Experience of sexual life
According to 83% of respondents, parents never talked about safe sex before they turned 18. Talking about sex was a taboo subject for both boys and girls. A large majority (85% of women and 81% of men) never had a discussion about safe sex with their parents. The study shows that the situation has changed somewhat over the last 50 years in terms of teenagers’ awareness of safe sex – 91% of men respondents and 90% of women respondents aged 65 and over stated that during adolescence their parents had never provided them with information on safe sex. However, only 67% of boys and 82% of girls aged 18-24 (in this study) today, say that parents never talked with them about the rules of safe sex. Thus some generational progress has been made from the parents’ side in terms of sharing information about safe sex, yet the improvement is not significant.
The study shows that men have a “monopoly’’ in their sex life. This concerns the start of a sex life as well as freedom in their sex life. The number of men and women ( (69% of men and 16% of women) who have sexual relations before the age of 18 differs greatly. Casual sexual relations are far more seldom for women (95% claim that they have not had a spontaneous partner) than for men (only 49% deny having had casual sexual relations), and 51% of men and 44% of women find that the frequency of sexual relations with their spouse or partner is “normal”. Homosexual relations were hardly reported-- 99.5% claimed they had never had sex with the same gender.
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UNFPA published the results of this study, and it is the first of its kind to be carried out in Georgia. The study is important as it illustrates the model of Georgian patriarchal society and the existence of the traditional scheme of role distribution, which is not compatible with Georgia’s intention to be an integral part of European cultural and social society. Furthermore, the patriarchal model is a main contributor to frequent cases of family violence, especially when a family member (usually a woman) shows resistance to this model. Consequently, the research is significant for planning social policy that aims to fight social inequality and gender stereotypes