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Three Women Reflect on International Women's Day

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Left to right: Diana Karibova, 24; Izo Chartishvili, 52; and Dodo Sigua, 62. Read more below. (Photos: Molly Corso)

Diana Karibova, a 24-year-old marketing manager at the American Chamber of Commerce, and her husband Giorgi share parental duties for their newborn son Alex. By tradition, Georgian men are not intimately involved in the day-to-day care of their children. But exceptions - such as Giorgi, who works two jobs but still tries to help at home when he can - exist.

Diana says women of her generation in Georgia are largely learning the wrong lessons from the West: they are taking full advantage of the freedoms and excesses of the West without tackling the responsibilities, such as studying and working hard to build a career.

"Women have a more complicated life than men. So if, as a woman, I want to have a career, I have to work [at it]. It depends on me," Diana says. "Do I want to work or do I not? My husband can tell me, 'Sit at home if you want, please.' I have to manage my household work. But if I want to work, I have to be more like I was at school - manage to study and to have fun."

Izo Chartishvili, a 52-year-old grandmother and school cook, says her family took in her father-in-law's older brother Sandro, who requires daily personal assistance. Izo took on the bulk of responsibility to care for him. In addition to her job as a cook at the local nursery school, she helps her daughter-in-law raise her grandson and takes care of the other three men in the family.

Izo, who lives in the village of Supsa in rural Georgia, married young and started a family young. In addition to farm work and household work, she always worked outside of the home. Her daily responsibilities include preparing meals, keeping the house clean, feeding livestock and going to work.

"Men in Georgia are more or less employed with construction [and their labor rights are protected] while women's [labor] rights in Georgia are more violated," Izo says. "Pregnancy rights are violated, and, after giving birth, a new mother has to leave her very small infant and go back to work very early when an infant needs to be with its mother for several months."

Dodo Sigua, a 62-year-old gynecologist, has worked at Tbilisi's Chachava Clinic for almost 40 years. Dodo believes her gender has never influenced her career. She graduated from high school in Sokhumi, and graduated from medical school in Kazan, Russia, at the head of her class.

Dodo was educated in the Soviet medical system but prides herself on an ability to marry her years of experience with Western medical breakthroughs and new developments. In the Soviet Union, women were expected to work, and many women - especially in Georgia - became doctors. Other professions, like journalists and teachers, were also popular.

"Here women are respected. It is very rare to meet a man who looks down on a woman, who doesn't give her any rights, doesn't allow her to work, doesn't allow her to go anywhere. For our country, that is not characteristic," Doda says. "I don't know if I would have achieved this if we did not have communism. I am not from a royal family. I was raised in a simple, Soviet family. I studied with excellence."

Molly Corso is a freelance reporter and photojournalist based in Tbilisi.

Three Women Reflect on International Women's Day

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