The FINANCIAL — Until she gave birth to her fourth child a year ago, 36 year old Tina Pruidze worked as a lawyer at a company in Tbilisi.
Now her days are spent looking after her children and looking for a new job, with no result so far.
“No one forced me to leave the company. I made the decision myself that it was better at the time to be a full-time mother,” said Pruidze. “As my children are not so dependent on me any longer I am ready to start working again. But it now appears my employers do not want to rehire me because of my large family,” said Tina Pruidze.
Women like Pruidze add to the high unemployment rate in Georgia nowadays. In reviewing women’s employment on the bases of existing statistics it is evident that in 2011 out of the 344.3 thousand employed people in the country, 39.0 percent are women and 61.0 percent men. Statistics show that women are mostly employed in small and medium businesses. The average monthly wages generally amount to 717.7 GEL in the business sector, but for women their average salary is markedly less at 505.3 GEL. The majority of women are employed in healthcare and social assistance. According to the employment figures, 61.0 percent of all women employed in the country are in Tbilisi, compared to the 59.7 percent of employed men that are in the capital city.
There are different reasons for the low rate of employment among Georgian women, most important of which is that a large number of Georgian women are housewives. “The reason why women make up a small percentage of the employed could be their physiological condition,” said Nodar Khaduri, Economist. “Women get pregnant, they take time off for maternity leave and they have to stop working. Also, women are mothers and they have to care for their children. Taking children to school and attending additional lessons such as dance and piano classes are part of a mother’s obligations. Because of these reasons in some cases women refuse work themselves or employers avoid giving them work for the simple reason that work requires much of one’s time and mobilization. However, some ministries and organizations have to employ women because of their efficiency in doing certain jobs. Among them it is worth mentioning the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health,” Khaduri added.
CARE International in the Caucasus contends that there is tremendous untapped productivity in the potential Georgian workforce. This is due to the under-utilization of women interested in participating in the formal economy. “A patriarchal culture which favours men’s employment over that of women has the effect of confining some women to domestic labour despite their interest in gaining employment outside the home,” said Thomas Reynolds, Mission Director of CARE International in the Caucasus. “Studies indicate women in Georgia tend to seek jobs when men are unemployed; both men and women agree that men should be the breadwinner of the family. This is the prevailing situation despite equivalent levels of education between men and women,” added Reynolds.
“In reviewing ownership of assets, women own less land, businesses, and other assets which can be used as collateral for obtaining commercial loans or micro credits. Thus, their chances of starting business are reduced,” he added.
Another reason of women’s unemployment is that most developed fields in Georgia are only suitable for men. “There is a disproportion of sector development. For example, the construction of hospitals, roads and so on is currently being developed. These fields need men’s employment, a male workforce. It is impossible to employ a woman for the job,” said Levan Gogoladze, Economist. “On the other hand, there are some sectors where both men and women are equally employed. The banking sector is an example of this. In my opinion, this result is not because of any form of discrimination, rather because of practical reasons,” he added.
Economists believe that the number of employed women is much higher than the statistics depict. “The majority of working women are employed in the informal sector. I mean jobs which do not involve registration, for example nurses, carers and similar jobs which are therefore not included in the statistics,” said Khaduri.
According to employment agency New Service, the majority of those employed there are women. “Our service includes family support such as nurse, nanny, carer for the elderly and maid. For the abovementioned positions women are in more demand than men,” said Tamuna Lomidze, Manager of New Service. “An employer prefers a candidate to be married, but not to have children as the work sometimes requires a round-the-clock schedule. Employers also generally prefer women to be from the age group of 45-55. Last year, the number of employees in various positions amounted to 80. The most in demand positions were nurse and nanny,” she added.
“In offices more women are employed than men. Directors prefer to be surrounded by good-looking women. Because of the high unemployment rate in the country directors have a big pool to choose from. So they have the liberty to choose a candidate who fits all the requirements. For that reason charming, qualified women should have no problem with finding employment,” said the Administrator of JobGeo.Com, another employment agency. “I would say however that there is age and sex discrimination in the workplace in Georgia. If you are not of the age or sex they want, you lose out. This happens because the Labour Code is not stringent enough. There is no culture of employment in the country. Employers simply send their requirements to employment agencies and create the demand on the labour market according to their set of criteria,” he added.