On Sunday 23 March the EU Monitoring Mission organised a special patrol to Zemo Nikozi, a village located in the vicinity of the Administrative Boundary Line with South Ossetia. As part of a wider campaign to mark International Women’s Day, EU monitors joined forces with members of the Georgian Rugby Union to raise awareness about gender equality and domestic violence at the local school. They were accompanied by colleagues from the United Nations and the EU Delegation, who had brought their beloved information bus.
“More than a hundred children showed up, even though it was Sunday,” said EU monitor and coordinator of the event Luciano Scambiato Liccardi. “With this activity, we aim to deconstruct gender-based stereotypes and promote gender equality, while raising awareness about women’s powerful role in conflict-affected societies and the importance of their active participation in civil society as a whole.”
“We hope that this contributes to ‘normalising’ local communities’ everyday lives and building confidence in the area - two key components of our Mission’s mandate,” Scambiato Liccardi continues.
While the Georgian Rugby Union kicked off the day’s activities with a so-called “men-to-men” talk with the boys, the girls were shown a film about the European Union followed by a question and answer session and a debate.
“These kinds of events are very important to provide our pupils with another perspective and expose them to something different, which is definitely a positive contribution to their education,” said Tamaz Melanishvili, the director of the Zemo Nikozi School.
Finally – and this was probably the moment to which everybody was most looking forward – everybody played rugby together, boys and girls alike.
“I’m really pleased that we could participate in this project,” said Nodar Andguladze, from the Georgian Rugby Union. “It’s great to see the children enjoying themselves and getting some exercise, while also learning about life. It’s also a great feeling to give something to these communities which have to handle so many challenges every day.”
A similar event will take at the Bershueti School on Sunday, 30 March.