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   Maia Kobakhidze, the President of Educators and Scientists Free Trade Union of Georgia, was awarded with the ETUCE Kounka Damianova Award for outstanding engagement in the trade union works in the field of education and the promotion of equality.

The award ceremony was held at ETUCE Special Conference, in Athens, where Maia Kobakhidze thanked ETUCE President Christin Blower, European Director Susan Floken, ETUCE special selection commission and everyone who made this decision.

"KOUNKA DAMIANOVA AWARD" was introduced for the first time in 2018 and will be given to the leaders selected by the ETUCE special selection commission, once every four year.

The ESFTUG leader addressed 300 delegates and invited guests from ETUCE 132 affiliated trade union organizations from 51 countries of the EI European region:

It is a great honor for me to be the first owner of the KOUNKA DAMIANOVA AWARD. I thank the President of European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) Christine Blower and the European Director Susan Flocken for such a high-profile assessment, the ETUCE Award Commission and all those who made this decision. This award is not my personal, but merit of Educators and Scientists Free Trade Union of Georgia.

As all know, our organization has successfully completed the transitional period, the Soviet style trade union work has passed into history. Today, we can broadly state that our organization is compatible with European standards. Teachers of Georgia are full members of the European Trade Union. A lot of thanks to the European Trade Union Committee for Education, without its support and care would be difficult to achieve today's results.

Although 90% of our organization's leaders are women, there is still a problem in our country, utilizing women's potential and capabilities in the leading positions in the state sectors. My project of the application also envisages establishment and development of a female leader. In this direction, there are many things to be done in our country and I’ll try to fill the existing vacuum with aspiration of this award.

I represent a country where historically, a special role was given to a woman. Even in the 12th century, the Georgian greatest poet Shota Rustaveli in his immortal poem “The knight in the Panther’s Skin” emphasized equality of men and women: “Lion’s whelps are equally lions, though female or male they be”. In the 12th century, Georgia was ruled by the woman - King Tamar, whose name is associated with the period of brilliance and rebuilding of Georgia.

Many examples can be brought, while the gender equality term does not exist, our ancestors took important steps in this direction.

Women's role is not only in old history. At the beginning of the 20th century, in 1918, the women took part in the vote of the founding council of the First Republic of Georgia. Georgia was just among the few countries in the world where women have the right to vote, and our parliament was one of the first where the women were elected as MPs.

Historical triggers, in particular, in 1921, the Russian annexation of Georgia hindered the development of the idea, but today is the time when the woman in the Georgian genetic code will reach its perfect development.

Receiving this award in Greece is symbolic for my understanding as one of the main axis in the ancient Greek mythology is a Georgian woman - Medea, a daughter of the King of Colchis (Georgian Kingdom, The region of Egrisi).

Dear colleagues, let me once again express my deep respect to the President of the European Committee, the European Director, to all affiliates of the ETUCE and to the leaders of the host organization for support.

I would like to emphasize my gratitude towards the German Education Trade Union (GEW) for supporting the submission of the application to "KOUNKA DAMIANOVA AWARD".