Female National Leaders around the World Part 6 - Georgia

The motives behind the series are curiosity and social conscience – female leaders are still rare around the world, and this fact exposes some fundamental defects in our social systems. I want to emphasize that I am talking about national leaders here, heads of state and heads of government, who just happen to be female by association. The reason I am highlighting them is not to propose that there would be some kind of crucial difference between them and their male counterparts. Now that we have made that clear, we can dive into our quest around the world and encounter the female leaders – both liberal and conservative – we are currently able to find. Our next stop is in the Caucasus, namely Georgia!

Georgia. Wikimedia Commons.

 

Salome Zourabichvili of Georgia

A rather small state in the Caucasus, Georgia is renowned for its “Golden Age” in the 13th century, the peak of which was lived under the rule of powerful queen Tamar. The golden time was bolstered by flourishing culture, sciences, literature, arts and religious life. After centuries of Mongolian, Tatar, Persian, Turkish, Russian and Soviet rule, Georgia today is a very different state.

Its most recent independence Georgia gained in 1991, but a series of civil wars and unrest ensued. Georgia is characterized by a very strong spirit of independence, its relationship with Russia has been problematic, and is one of the few former Soviet states that is not a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).  

Georgia is a representative democratic parliamentary republic. The president, as the head of state, is currently chosen for a five-year term. Quite similarly to Finland and other parliamentary democracies, the post is largely ceremonial, but the president is also the supreme commander-in-chief, and holds other lesser powers. President Salome Zourabichvili in the second female serving as the president of modern-day Georgia, as Nino Burjanadze has been an acting president twice before, both in the case of resignation of the previous president. Salome Zourabichvili, the first woman to be elected as the president, was born in Paris to Georgian emigrant parents, and received Georgian nationality only in 2004, when she assumed the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Georgia. Before that she had served as the ambassador of France to Georgia. She assumed the presidential office in December 2018. Zourabichvili’s background is in liberalist, centre to centre-right political parties, such as The Way of Georgia -party, founded by herself, and the Georgian Dream-party of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, which backed her up during the presidential elections.  Her family includes many politically and academically renowned members, such as her cousin Hélène Carrére d’Encausse, who is a highly considered historian at the head of the Académie française.

Currently vast areas of Georgia are under dispute. Zourabichvili’s take on the questions of two regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia has been that Russia’s occupation of the areas is unacceptable. She has also claimed to be willing to “make any effort to promote Georgia’s integration into NATO and the EU.”

Zourabichvili is the first elected female president in the post-Soviet republics outside the Baltics. However, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the opposition and the international monitors criticized the election campaigns of harsh rhetoric and “an unlevel playing field.” Read more about the elections here.

 

Hero image licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Wikimedia Commons.