President Giorgi Margvelashvili said on March 16 that he supports introducing mandatory quotas for women to help increase the number of female members in Parliament by the next elections in 2016.
Speaking at a conference in Tbilisi on women’s political participation, Margvelashvili said that Georgia’s target should be to increase share of female members of parliament from current 12% to up to 40%.
Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, who was also present at the same conference voiced lukewarm support towards the proposal.
Currently there are 17 female lawmakers in 150-seat Parliament; the number will increase to 18 after a new member joins UNM parliamentary minority group to replace Davit Sakvarelidze, who lost his MP credentials after becoming deputy general prosecutor of Ukraine.
President Margvelashvili said that although share of female members of parliament and local city councils has increased compared to previous years, it still remains too low.
“I support… introducing quota system in the most democratic process – when people elect their representatives either on the local level [in town councils] or in the Parliament. There are various opinions on quota system… but I am absolutely convinced that the step should be made in this direction and it should be reflected already in next parliamentary elections. I call on the political spectrum and the society to engage actively in this process,” said the President, who in January declared 2015 the Year of Women.
“I also believe that it would be good if a woman becomes Georgia’s fifth president,” said Margvelashvili, who is Georgia’s fourth president.
Speaking at the same conference, parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili said that he shares “the stance of many of you here that time has come to move from such events [conferences on women’s rights] to the stage of elaboration and making of decisions.”
“Very concrete initiatives are required and I want to welcome Mr. President’s concrete proposals – a woman as the next president, I can support that,” he said.
President Margvelashvili intervened by telling Usupashvili jokingly: “I can even convene a special session of parliament if you want to initiate this issue.” Here the President also made a reference to a recent controversy between him and the parliamentary majority group over his decision to convene a special session of the parliament upon opposition UNM’s request to discuss economic issues, which was boycotted by the ruling coalition MPs.
“You will face early presidential election for that [initiative] so think about it,” Usupashvili responded smiling.
Usupashvili said that in general he is against of any mandatory quota systems.
“I am against of quotas, but at the same time I am a supporter of equality and if I see that it is impossible to achieve equality without setting quotas, then I become supporter of quotas,” he said.
“I think that we can make a serious step forward by the next parliamentary elections [in 2016]; achieving of broad consensus between political forces is needed for that purpose and we should work on this issue, because votes in parliament are needed in order to pass the bill. We already know that the President will not veto such bill if we [the Parliament] pass it, but it has to be adopted by the Parliament at first,” Usupashvili said, but also added that even within his Republican Party there is no unanimous position over introduction of quota system.