8 March is International Women's Day. The occasion is marked in many parts of the Caucasus with small symbolical acts of respect to woman-folk, such as presenting female relations at home or colleagues at the workplace with flowers or sweets.
Women remain the bedrock on which Caucasian society is based. Despite its macho folkloric image of moustachioed men with daggers in their belts and drinking from long horns, it is the women who provide the continuity and stability in society. The plight of women in the Caucasus is however often difficult. They are often at the receiving end of violence both domestic and otherwise. They still remain largely in the background in public life and are discriminated against in many ways. During the conflicts of the last twenty five years women suffered more than their fair share, taking the brunt of the consequences of war and violence, particularly when their families have been displaced.
There are some signs that the role of women is improving, but the process is slow. Women still form a tiny minority in the parliaments in the three South Caucasus countries and women's rights groups continue to be marginalised. The situation is even worse in the North Caucasus where religious conservatism is eroding any past gains. International Women's Day is a good opportunity to reflect on these problems and consider their solutions.
We wish all women in the Caucasus and worldwide, and particularly all female followers and readers of commonspace.eu Happy International Women's Day.
photo: Women in the Georgian city of Rustavi (picture courtesy of livingrootless.blogspot.com)