Credits Photo: Dina Oganova/UNFPA
Published on August 10, 2022

Strive for Visibility

Mariam Devidze, 28, an artist by profession, works as a bartender's assistant in one of the nightclubs in Tbilisi. Mariam is deaf and, like most women with disabilities, often faces discrimination and barriers. 

Mariam and her husband equally share the responsibility of taking care of their child, although Mariam sometimes cannot be fully involved in addressing her child's daily needs, because, for example, when receiving medical services, doctors fail to find a sign language interpreter and prefer to communicate with Mariam's husband.

We introduce Mariam to you with a photo-story, which was prepared within the framework of the programme "Transforming Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities".




All girls and young women in Georgia face a challenge of having to agree all their decisions with their families, but deaf girls face much more than that.  




After graduating from school, we are made to stay at home, we are locked up, hidden and why? Aren’t we part of this community? Don’t we need to develop? Don’t we want to be educated? We should have the right to all these. 




My husband is an ordinary man, I mean, he can hear and speak and he is a very good man actually. He fell in love with me and he learned the sign language to be able to communicate with me. So, that has never been a barrier in our relationship.  




I remember the attitude of the doctors during childbirth. In general, there are no sign language interpreters in the clinics, which complicates things. When I visit a doctor, the first thing I do is explain to them that I cannot hear and they usually ask me to bring my husband or someone else with me. And when we had our child, I remember the first thing the doctor told me was: “Congratulations, your child is normal, he can hear!” I was happy, but at the same time I somehow felt offended. Was that my choice? I was born deaf and I think that people should not be divided like that.




Our main goal is to become visible in the society, to be accepted the way we are, and to be provided with services tailored to our needs - to the needs of the deaf - all the services enjoyed by other people, because we are also part of this society. 

About the Programme:

The programme “Transforming Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities” has been jointly implemented by six UN agencies (UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, UN Women, OHCHR) since the beginning of 2020, with the support provided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund.

The purpose of the programme is to take appropriate measures to eliminate the key factors leading to the social exclusion of persons with disabilities in society, support the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and promote the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Within the framework of the programme, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) worked closely with the governmental and non-governmental sectors, international and local experts, as well as with the UN agencies participating in the project. 

-    Within the framework of the joint programme, laws and programmes related to the sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights of persons with disabilities were analysed and assessed, recommendations were developed in order to harmonize them with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has supported the updating and development of relevant strategies and action plans and integration of issues concerning violence against women with disabilities and their reproductive health and rights in the policy documents. 

-    The effort has included facilitation of the refinement and development of the guiding documents the sexual and reproductive health services and identification and response to violence. 

-    Within the framework of the programme, the focus has been on strengthening the participatory advocacy platforms aiming at the protection of the rights of women and young persons with disabilities and on capacitation of women with disabilities on the issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender based violence.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), other participating UN agencies and donor organizations.