So I am just having a small break in Zugdidi, Georgia after a very interesting week of meetings here in Zugdidi and the breakaway region Abkhazia.
The contrasts are many; first thing I noticed was hundreds of meters of new barbed wire, fences and a longer and more complicated procedure to enter the breakaway region Abkhazia. The Russian military is now controlling enter and exit of the breakaway region Abkhazia, and as I heard today some Russian military officers are telling local people, living in Eastern Abkhazia, that they need an Abkhaz passport to enter – however far from all inhabitants of Eastern Abkhazia have an Abkhaz passport – it is a long and complicated bureaucratic procedure to get one. Many of the inhabitants of Eastern Abkhazia depend on Georgia for health care and medical service. From barbed wire to the stunning beauty of nature – the black sea and the mountains while travelling to Gagra.
All women I have spoken to during my intense trip, on the Georgian as well as the Abkhaz side, ethnic Georgian as well as ethnic Abkhaz women, witness that women during the conflict got a new role – as breadwinners of the family and that they also were caring so much for the wellbeing and health of their families – that women simply forgot about themselves. Women might have been in need of health care and medical service – however they didn’t prioritize themselves – which resulted in poor health status of women. Moreover as a consequence of the conflict domestic violence has increased. In Abkhazia there are no mechanisms protecting women subjected to violence, and it seems like our partner organisations are alone in talking about domestic violence. Our partner organisations are working on increasing the awareness of domestic violence and its consequences and trying to prevent that gender stereotypes hindering women’s equal participation in private and public life are maintained. A very important and hard work in the conflict affected communities.