The Lelos to wear UN Women-branded shirts against South Africa & Scotland

By Sara Mockford

Georgia will have a new logo on their shirts when they take on South Africa in a two-Test series next month.

Declining offers from traditional sponsors, the Lelos hope to raise awareness for gender equality by having the UN Women logo on their jerseys as they face the world champions in South Africa.

In a statement, Georgia Rugby Union president Ioseb Tkemaladze said: “We decided to transform these long-awaited matches into a global message. We intentionally turned down sponsors’ funding to continue to support our historical partner in social programmes UN Women, now from the global perspective.

“With this statement, we would like to tell the whole world that ‘the cause of ending violence against women and girls is more than any game’.

“Rugby values are to support each other and share the greater good via positive emotions of the game, for everyone. In continuation of this spirit, we are passing a global message to our planet – Georgian Rugby Supports UN Women!”

UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, has been operating for a decade but says the recent pandemic has set back progress.

Tamar Sabedashvili, a UN Women representative in Georgia, said: “The UN Women Georgia Country Office enjoys a long-term partnership with the Georgia Rugby Union around ending violence against women; we are united in this struggle.

“Therefore, it is especially joyful for us that the Lelos are dedicating these highly significant games to the cause of women’s rights and their empowerment.”

South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa has described gender-based violence (GBV) as the country’s ‘second pandemic’.

World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi has also spoken out about GBV and is a global advocate for the Spotlight Initiative — a partnership between the European Union and the United Nations tasked with eliminating all forms of violence against women by 2030.

“It’s not up to women to take up this fight alone,” he said last year. “We’ve got to admit that men are the problem and we’ve got to look at how we can be better. Education is so important. There are a lot of things that we need to unlearn in terms of how we treat women and even how we speak to women. I’m talking about education at home as well as at school.

“I’ve also been hard on my son Nicholas (five) about this. They say you should educate your son rather than protect your daughter. I’ve almost been too hard on him but I want him to realise how important this is. If we are all educated, we will make better choices in life.”

These two Tests against Georgia, on 2 and 9 July, are the first South Africa will play since winning the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and will also be the first meetings between the two countries since RWC 2003.