Mains a serious challenge within georgian political

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mains a serious challenge within Georgian political parties, considering thelow femalerepresentation in thenational legislativebody. and political parli 'S hos not been bus 'd Oil 1()I'Il111 r 'p,uldLiol)s or lnstitu- tional practices and mechanisms, but is of a more ad ho haractcr. The system for selecting candidates and how they get 011 party lists remains grounded in principles that are not favorable to women. While most of thepolitical parties have adopted theprinciples ofdemocracy intheir ap- proaches, strategies, and programs, achieving gender balance remains a serious challenge inside theparties, resulting inlowfemalerepresentation inthenational legislative body. Researchconducted byTamarBagratiaand Medea Badashvili onseven Georgian political parties indicates that allofthem made declarative state- ments supporting gender equality and women's inclusion inparty politics, and none provided clear-cut policies or advancement strategies toensure gender parity.Most oftheinitiatives were ad hoc and unsystematic. With regard togender parity policies,theauthors identify twotypes ofpolitical parties: those that do and those that do not have mechanisms in place to ensure gender equality. Parties that do have some mechanisms, such as a women's branch, are better able to secure some level ofadvancement for women in terms of their visibility and levels of responsibility. Even so, no party has institutionalized gender equality by means ofits statutes or bylaws (Bagratia and Badashvili 2011). In those parties that have made someeffort tobe more inclusive by means ofspecial groups orbranches, women's standing remains weak. Furthermore, analysis ofpolitical parties from agender perspective in- dicates that by 2010 thenumber ofregistered political parties had reached two hundred; however, only a few of them were politically active, and general public awareness of their agenda has been rather low (Bagratia and Badashvili 2011). Although parties are fragmented, still the party as an entity remains the main arena and entry point for women's political participation and representation in the Parliament. Therefore, while not allthe political parties acknowledge the importance ofwomen's inclusion and have no comprehension ofthe positive sidesofwomen's engagement in political decision making and party life, establishing gender parity within parties becomes an indicator of a party's level of democracy, and therefore isan important factor forwomen's political advancement (ibid.; Chkheidze 2014). It isnotable that women comprised 29percent ofthe registered candi- dates for the 2012 parliamentary elections in Georgia. Sixof the sixteen registered political parties that participated in these elections responded to the financial incentives incorporated into the Organic Law ofGeorgia on Political Union of Citizens in 2011 to voluntarily include women in their party lists.Thetwoleading politicalparties-UNM and theGeorgian Dream coalition-put forth the least number of women candidates and
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