The Georgian Rugby Union urges the society to fight against violence towards women and girls. This follows the 2010 partnership agreement with the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).
In 2010, most popular rugby stars of the Georgian Rugby Union initiated campaign billboards and spread them across Tbilisi. The billboards encouraged members of the society to join hands to stand against inequality towards women. Specifically, they targeted the abuse towards women and girls.
Additionally, videos featuring various rugby stars criticizing domestic violence were released. The videos gained significant public awareness through social media and television.
The rugby team established the campaign after learning about the vicious abuse towards women practiced in Georgia. Determined to eliminate the problem, they initiated a campaign. They partnered with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and the Georgian Rugby Union.
A few years ago, much of the Georgian population excused domestic abuse as a “family matter”. In fact, according to a survey carried out in 2009, 78.3 percent of the society agreed to that view.
Fortunately, as per a study conducted by the UN-Women, 69 percent of the Georgian population believed domestic abuse to be a crime. However, 25 percent of the population still dismissed domestic abuse as a “family matter”. This number is still too large.
In March 2012, during a match between the Georgian and the Russian rugby teams, the Georgian team informed the audience about the game’s dedication to “the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women”.
Ever since, it has become a tradition to, annually, dedicate several international tournaments to ending domestic violence.
Moreover, Georgian rugby players decided on a more first-hand approach to the issue. The players began personally meeting with young Georgian men to discuss the issue and raise awareness among the young generation. The discussions began with rugby itself and grew into serious discussions of the wide-spread issue.
According to Lekso Gugava, a member of the Georgia National Rugby Union Team, “Everyone loves rugby and respects rugby players in Georgia. That is why it is important to use the authority of and respect for rugby players to help shape values of the younger generations for a fair and equal environment for all, free from violence.”
Also, to further raise awareness and strengthen the battle for equality, the Georgian Rugby Union, alongside UN-Women, have designed a manual for rugby coaches. The manual guides coach into teaching their students about gender equality and raise their intolerance for violence against women.
“It is vital that men speak about gender equality, because it concerns us as much as women. Therefore, as many men as possible should get involved in this movement”, said Sandro Nijharadze, a rugby player.
Moreover, during the Oceania Tournament in Samoa in 2016, the local UN-Women office called the Georgian Rugby Union to visit Avele College.
“Any violence, especially violence against women and girls is unacceptable. For us, the rugby players, to fight violence is a duty”, said Mr. Andguladze to the students of Avele College.
Fortunately, the efforts of the Georgian rugby team are growing more influential and expanding past the Georgian borders.