In the framework of the “Emerging Leaders School” (ELS) program, the participants were provided with an opportunity to take initiative and together with their counterparts plan and organize series of Space for Discussion (SfD) events themselves. Space for Discussion is an additional opportunity for the “Emerging Leaders School” (ELS) participants to meet the experts from different fields as well as public and private sector representatives. The participants choose the discussion topic themselves and have an opportunity to get the answers to the questions of their interest from the invited professionals and decision-makers. The events are public and all interested individuals are encouraged to join.
The “Emerging Leaders School” (ELS) participants from different regions of Georgia started organizing Space the Discussion meetings online in the beginning of May and since then they have held 6 public discussions, which reached over 150 people.
Here are the topics, which participants decided to discuss together with respective guest speakers under the framework of Space for Discussion meeting series:
Samegrelo – Zemo Svaneti
- Why more decentralization? (Organizers: Sophia Tchitanava, Bakur Khubulava, and Davit Logua).
The speakers discussed to what extend does local self-government responds to its core principles related to its subsidiarity. Moreover, they also examined to what extend does local self-government acts in accordance with the European Charter, which claims exclusivity of local authority powers. The speakers also touched upon the political independence issue of the local decision-makers. Furthermore, important points were voiced by the speakers regarding the fiscal decentralization. More specifically, they discussed what are some ways to ensure local self-government’s financial self-sufficiency and independence.
Koka Kiguradze – Expert on Local Self-Government;Archil Todua – Regional Coordinator at Zugdidi office at Transparency International-Georgia (PhD candidate working on decentralization);
Ani Tsitlidze – Politician (PhD candidate working on decentralization);
Sandro Sordia – Chairperson of the Commission on Legal, Mandate, and Human Rights Issues at Zugdidi Municipality; Member of the Municipal Council.
- Impact of Labor and Employment Rights Protection on Economy – Obstacle or Stimulus? (Organizers: Maia Kuprava, Nikoloz Badzaghua, Teo Tskitishvili).
During the meeting, the participants discussed different issues related to creating safe and dignified working conditions. More specifically, they touched upon the following issues: Improving working conditions for employees; Creating opportunities for productive employment; What kind of political decisions lead to the most efficient results and to what extent the state should intervene in order to successfully achieve labor and employment policy objectives?; What should the state do to improve the working conditions for employees as well as employment support services?; The state of affairs in Georgia in that area and the most challenging issues in the employer/employee relationship. The speakers also talked about the international practice in the areas of working conditions and labor right protection.
Esma Gumberidze – Young European Ambassador (YEA), Civil Rights Activist, Co-founder and a Chair-person at the Disabled Women’s Organization, Youth and Disabled Rights Activist;
Irakli Mkheidze – Imereti Regional Office Coordinator at Georgian Trade Unions Confederation (GTUC);
Anjela Bologan – Executive Director at Cognitive Center of Georgia.
- Sexual Harassment (Organizers: Ineza Shengelia, Mariam Gorozia, Gvantsa Malania, Tako Gogia).
The meeting aimed to raise awareness among the discussion participants on the legal framework of sexual harassment as well as existing restraining mechanisms and reporting practices. Furthermore, the speakers discussed the specific cases of sexual harassment from the practical experience of the Ombudsmen’s Office in Georgia.
Nika Gogia – Criminal law specialist at Zugdidi office at Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA);
Nutsa Kashakashvili – Chief Specialist at Equality Department at the Office of Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia.
- History as a tool for propaganda in Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian relations (Organizers: Ana Qochua, Salome Gugushvili, Lika Rogava, Ekaterine Khubulava).
The discussion touched upon the challenges of using history as a source for propaganda and disinformation, as well as the problems related to social media and civil society in the aforementioned process. The speakers highlighted the importance of literacy and education for creating informed society. They also discussed the issue of vulnerability among conflict-affected and divided society.
Davit Jishkariani – Historian;
Maka Sartania – Executive Director at Academy for Peace and Development.
- Child protective services and existing challenges in Zugdidi Municipality(Organizers: Teona Gasashvili, Tamta Bigvava, Ana Kharchilava, Teona Qardava).
The public discussion aimed to raise awareness on the existing child protective services as well as showcasing the main challenges that the child protection system faces. The speakers talked about the child welfare system in Georgia, the reforms that led up to the changes in the system as well as legislations that led to the creation of new state services at different times; Furthermore, the speakers also touched upon the prevalent children’s rights issue related to the large children’s shelters, where the state, the Ombudsmen and the organizations specializing in children’s rights protection do not have authority to assess or monitor the living conditions of underage beneficiaries. The speakers from public and non-governmental sectors thoroughly overviewed the work of their organizations, target groups as well as the specific projects that they are currently implementing in Zugdidi Municipality. Furthermore, they discussed the existing limitations of the public sector related to the lack of resources. When it comes to the non-governmental sector, the main limitations are related to the territorial challenges, which hinders equal distribution of services across Zugdidi Municipality.
Neli Akobia – National Advisor and Zugdidi Program Manager of Family Support Services at SOS Children’s Villages Georgia;
Tamar Meskhia – Project Coordinator – “Promoting Gender Equality and Preventing Child Abandonment in Zugdidi Municipality” – at SOS Children’s Villages Georgia;
Ia Ekhvaia – Head of the Children’s Right Protection and Support Department at Zugdidi Municipality Town Hall;
Tsira Chukhua – Social Worker at Center for Psychological and Social Services in Zugdidi at the Office of Resource Officers of Educational Institutions.
- Minimum wage law and regulations in Georgia(Organizers: Medea Pavliashvili, Ana Mamulashvili, Megi Terletskaia, Sophio Nozadze, Ina Bestavashvili).
The meeting aimed to analyze the possible consequences of introducing minimum wage law in Georgia and its anticipated positive and negative effects on the economy. Furthermore, the discussion aimed to raise awareness around the aforementioned issue among the participants. During the meeting, the speakers discussed the potential outcomes of the minimum wage legislation. The speakers also touched upon the relevance of the issue and the need for the minimum wage legislation under the Labor Code of Georgia. On the other hand, the speakers underlined possible negative effects of the minimum wage legislation on the country’s economy.
Zurab Japaridze – Member of Parliament, the leader of Girchi – More Freedom;
Davit Gabunia – Director and Lawyer at Non-governmental Organization “Say No to Slavery”.
The discussions on various interesting topics will continue to be held in May and will be concluded in June.
“Space for Discussion” is held within the framework of GIP’s ongoing project “Promoting Youth Transformational Leaders in Georgia” financially supported by USAID.