Women’s Fund in Georgia have held the third Feminist Festival in Batumi and dedicated it to solidarity.
Why solidarity? Solidarity – the word, that everybody knows and uses so often, actually has a deeper meaning. Solidarity is not just a recognition of differences. It is more than tolerance, an active condition that requires good understanding of the hierarchy of oppression and responding to it accordingly.
This is feminists’ favorite word, as feminist solidarity broadens space for everyone, beyond the class, abilities, sexuality and legal status. Women’s movement needs this kind of solidarity today.
We need intersectional solidarity now.
Women’s political fight and resilience has been transforming for years according to the limits set for women, what others wanted us to do and what we wanted to do.
Today we unite for self-expression, secularity, sexual freedom, gender equality because powerful xenophobic, populist, ultra-right groups are against our freedom and try to demonize us. They cannot tolerate diversity, ethnic, religious and sexual differences, that are our fundamental rights.
Today we need solidarity as much as we did while fighting for the right to vote, when we found out that oppression has a multiple dimension and every person should have a chance to reveal its full potential.
Women’s Fund in Georgia believes that feminist investment in women, women’s groups and movements is the tool to achieve this goal. Women’s joint action is the only effective way to social transformation.
Therefore, we call our sisters to join this political fight that has started with solidarity and must continue this way.
Each activity of the Feminist Festival was connected to the main topic – solidarity. The festival was kicked off by Etuna Noghaideli with interactive session on “What is Solidarity?” in order to discuss and agree on the deep and real meaning of the word. Later, Ani Gogberashvili explained the political importance of care and solidarity.
This year we have introduced new platform for local women to share their personal experiences of womanhood. Created with the inspiration of TEDx, FEMx was the name of the activity and it turned out to be one of the highlights of the festival. it gave 8 women the opportunity to share their emotions, ideas and experiences with other participants and attendees.
On the first day, Medea Motskobili, Hurie Abashidze, Ana Akhaladze and Anastasia Kajaia spoke about the challenges and stereotypes that women in regions, Georgian Muslim women, women with disabilities and young women face in their daily and professional lives.
First day ended with festival’s traditional activity – feminist library, where everyone had a chance to approach representatives of different feminist groups and talk, ask questions and learn more about various topic, including the ones that hate-groups try to spread disinformation on.
Second day of the festival started with the presentation of the book “sHERos – Women from August War”. Salome Benidze and Dina Oganova, authors of the book and gender researcher Nargiza Arjevanidze spoke about women and war – how the wars in last decades affected women in Georgia, their mental condition, body, private space and life in general.
Despite the small number of people involved in the activism, relationships inside the women’s movements become quite tense from time to time. Nukri Tabidze, feminist and queer activist spoke about these disagreements, lack of solidarity toward each other’s individual needs and how this damages the common goal.
On the second day FEMx hosted Mari Korinteli, Manana Bolkvadze, Ala Parunova and Ira Silanteva, who shared their ideas and observations on roles and responsibilities in families, society’s skepticism toward women’s abilities, green and queer activism.
Feminist tour in Batumi was the last activity of the second day of the festival. Participants had unique opportunity to visit several important locations of the city and hear the stories of very special Adjarian women from past. It must be mentioned that the activity was initiated by the Independent Group of Feminists (IGF) and it was the very first time when such a tour took place in Batumi. IGF is an informal non-registered, non-hierarchical group which unite women of different ages, experiences, abilities, socio-economic class, sexual identities, etc.
Third day of the Festival has started with a panel on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). SRHR is one of the very important directions of the Fund’s work. Sophie Beria, founder of allaboutyou.ge - the first Georgian platform on sexual education funded by WFG, Ana Lobzhanidze – representative of the Public Defender’s Office and Tamar Poniava, feminist activist spoke about the importance of sexual education and solidarity between women.
Sex life often becomes a tool to threaten women in Georgia. Salome Merkviladze held workshop on digital security and shared her knowledge on how to secure ourselves while using different gadgets and tools.
Later, Books in Batumi hosted presentations of research “Women in Georgian Press” and book “Feminist Reading”.
The festival has ended with educational and fun activity – feminist quiz which was again initiated and hosted by IGF. The aim of the quiz was to engage the feminist festival participants and other different groups in Batumi.
We want to thank all the participants of the festival for creating the safe space full of wisdom and creativity.
See you next year!