The sexual harassment of women in Georgia remains a serious problem. With a poor understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment at both a personal and societal level, Union Sapari, a Georgian women’s organization, realised that the first step to solving the issue and empowering women was raising knowledge and awareness across the population.
After attending CampCamp 2016, the Prague Civil Society Centre’s four-day campaigning bootcamp in Yerevan, Union Sapari devised a clever multi-media campaign to address the issue and encourage women to come forward and tell their stories of harassment and assault. The five-month initiative mixed social media videos and interviews with victims, with a training and outreach programme in universities across Georgia and humorous animated videos which helped to define sexual harassment for a public whose knowledge of both the law and terminology is vague.
“Before women can start defending themselves, they need a deeper knowledge and understanding of this phenomenon,” Union Sapari explains. “Harassment is very common in Georgia and it makes women feel unsafe. But it is so ingrained in everyday life that we barely notice it. And then when you start talking to women, almost everyone has a horrible story to tell.”
Union Sapari hopes the campaign will encourage more and more people to reject convention and say that sexual harassment – whether unwanted sleazy comments or violent assaults – is unacceptable.
The campaign itself has already captured the attention of the Georgian public. A video introduction to the topic has been viewed 94,000 times on Facebook and more than 90 women have shared their stories on social media, with some of the most harrowing stories reaching more than 41,000 people. Their campaign was also featured in Georgian media outlets, including Liberali, on.ge, TV Imedi and Starvizia.