The women of the Pankisi Gorge, mostly Muslim, and mostly Kist, Chechen refugees (some naturalized), and IDP's have been pioneers of social change for many years. Together they saw a need for women to have a voice on the Council of Elders, an all male judicial council that negotiates disputes and governs the affairs of the residents of Pankisi according to Muslim family law. So in 2011 under the umbrella of Kakheti Regional Development Foundation (KRDF), and with much discussion and negotiation with the community at large and the Council of Elders in particular, 15 esteemed women representing the villages of Pankisi Gorge were elected to the Pankisi Women's Council and established as a voice for the rights and affairs of women that came before the Council of Elders.
Since that time, the Women's Council has been extremely effective in monitoring claims of domestic violence, standing up for human rights, especially the rights of women and children, and giving the women of Pankisi a strong and respected voice in mediating issues of property rights, child custody rights and standing up against violence against women and children.
The establishment of such a Women's Council as a voice for women's rights, with hard fought for collaboration with and support of the Council of Elders, flies in the face of community convention and is unprecedented. The Women's Council success as social justice advocates and community peace builders is a model for other minority communities trying to protect the rights of women and enter the 21st century of gender equality and human rights as they seek acceptance and assimilation into the Georgian community at large.
Dozen's of women in Pankisi who do not serve directly on the Women's Council, but who do the support work for the Council and the educational and vocational programs at the Duisi Centre, and who care deeply about the rights of women and children, make up the working, support, and social body known as the Pankisi Women's Club. Some are employed by KRDF and run the KRDF field office in Duisi. Some are teachers and artists and musicians and computer specialists and teach the after-school classes offered at the Community Centre. Some are mothers and housewives and cooks and farmers and shopkeeps and professionals.