Situation in the field of Gender Mainstreaming in the Republic of Azerbaijan
Since regaining its independence the Republic of Azerbaijan joined almost all essential international documents on the protection of women's rights. The Republic of Azerbaijan signed the UN Convention on the Political Rights of Women in August 1992 and in 1995 became a party to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and signed its Optional Protocol in 2000.The Government of Azerbaijan has made certain achievements in the sphere of gender policy. The State Committee on Women's Issues was established by Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated January 14, 1998 with a view to implement the state policy on gender (State Committee on Family, Women and Gender Issues since 6 February, 2006). The main objectives and purposes of the Committee are protection of the rights of women, increasing of women's participation in social and political life of the country.
In March, 2000 the President of Azerbaijan signed the Decree "On Implementation of the National Gender Policy in the Republic of Azerbaijan". This act envisages the ensuring of equal representation of women and men in all state structures of the Republic; providing the refugee and internally displaced women with working places by preparing the relevant state program; reviewing the legislation with taking into account the gender aspects.
In order to launch the practical implementation of the above-mentioned Decree the gender focal points were appointed in the governmental structures. According to the Decree of the Government of Azerbaijan women should be appointed as one of the Deputy Heads of the Executive Power in all regions of Azerbaijan. This decree has already been implemented in large number of the regions.
In June, 2000 the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan adopted the National Plan of Action on Women Issues for 2000-2005. This program was elaborated on the basis of Beijing Strategies with taking into consideration the national priorities. It covers political, social, economic, cultural, educational, health spheres, problems of refugee and internally displaced women. The National Plan of Action includes both the participation of state structures and NGOs. The inter-agency group was established in order to implement the provisions of the National Plan of Action.
The Government of Azerbaijan co-operates closely with International Organisations such as UN, OSCE/ODIHR, CoE in the sphere of gender mainstreaming. Different projects in the field of women's political participation and their involvement into policy- and decision-making are being implemented in Baky and in the regions of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan closely cooperates with UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Our cooperation with this organization realized thorough the regional project entitled, “Women for Conflict Prevention and Peace Building in the Southern Caucasus” (Phase I: 2001 – 2004; Phase II: 2004 - 2007).
One of the main distinguishing features of the UNIFEM project Under Phase I (2001-2004) has been the mobilising of grassroots support – namely women’s organisations, activists, leaders, and youth - around gender equality, peace-building and conflict prevention issues in the country. In so doing, the project facilitated the creation of women’s networks and coalitions, as well as strengthened efforts around conflict prevention and peace education. Under Phase II, the project is focusing initiatives to upscale the results achieved to date, using the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UN SCR 1325) as guiding frameworks to promote and protect peace-building and women’s human rights. To this end, at the national level UNIFEM is forging closer partnerships with government in monitoring and implementing gender equality commitments made under CEDAW, UNSCR 1325, Millennium Development Goals and the Beijing Platform for Action. Further, UNIFEM is supporting improved linkages between gender equality advocates in government and within civil society on these issues.
Azerbaijan closely cooperates with OSCE Baku Office and ODIHR in the sphere of gender mainstreaming. During the recent years ODIHR implemented several projects ("Women's leadership and political participation", "Prevention of violence against women") with the aim of empowering women in Azerbaijan. As result of the projects implemented by ODIHR the network of women working in governmental structures was established covering ministries, Constitutional and Supreme Courts, Baky City Hall. A number of round-tables and workshops were conducted with participation of this group of women.
Azerbaijan also cooperates with Council of Europe in the domain of protection of the rights of women. Our country makes use of the recommendations of the CoE for the improvement of legislation from the gender point of view and also takes an active part in the work of the different bodies of CoE in the sphere of gender mainstreaming. The representative of Azerbaijan is a Chair of the Committee on the Equality between Women and Men (CDEG). The high-level delegation of Azerbaijan actively participated at 5th and 6th Ministerial Conferences on Gender Equality of the CoE held in Skopje and Stockholm in 2002 and 2006.
One of the main reasons hampering economic and political situation in the country is the aggression of Armenia and occupation of the 20% of territories of Azerbaijan. As a result of this conflict 1 million Azerbaijanis became refugee and IDP. 54% of them are women.
Azerbaijan initiated adoption of the resolution on “Release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflicts” at the 39th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 1995. This resolution was adopted at the sessions of the CSW in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008.
Another reason of the low participation of women in social, political and public life of the country are the existing traditional stereotypes of the image of woman in society, whose role is limited by the boundaries of family. This situation demands a new approach to the national gender strategy. At the moment we are in the process of building the national machinery for developing gender strategy and incorporating gender component in practical activities within the Government.
In this respect, the gender focal points in the ministries constitute the working group under the State Committee for Women's Issues which meets every month to elaborate new gender policy within each ministry and to discuss what have been done in this field.
One of the important steps in the sphere of gender mainstreaming was the adoption of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on guarantees of gender equality in December of 2006. The main purpose of this act is ensuring equal opportunities for women and men in the political, economic, social, cultural and other spheres of public life and elimination of all forms of discrimination on gender basis.
The Government of Azerbaijan pays special attention to the honoring commitments taken in the sphere of protection of the rights of women. On January 23, 2007 the Committee on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) considered the 2nd and 3rd periodic report of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women. English and Russian versions of the report and all documents on this issue can be found on the following web site: www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/
The Government of Azerbaijan also takes active part in the process of promotion of women rights in the international level. On 10-11 June 2008 an international forum on “Expanding the role of women in cross-cultural dialogue” was held in Baku on the initiative of Ms Mehriban Aliyeva, First Lady of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
As a proof of the increasing influence of Azerbaijan and support for promotion of women’s rights at the international level, it was decided to hold 7th Ministerial Conference of the Council of Europe on gender equality in Baku in 2010.
National legislative basis of the implementation of gender policy in the Republic of Azerbaijan
Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan of 14 January, 1998 “On the establishing of the State Committee on Women Issues”. The main purpose and duty of the Committee is the protection of women’s rights and promotion of their participation in the social and political life of the country.
According to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan of 6 February, 2006 the State Committee on Family, Women and Child Issues was established on the basis of the State Committee on Women Issues.
Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan of 6 March, 2000 “On state women policy of the Republic of Azerbaijan”. This document envisages ensuring equality between women and men in all state bodies, providing employment of IDP and refugee women in accordance with relevant state programmes, revision of legislation from the gender point of view.
Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan of 6 March 2000 "On National Plan of Action on women's issues of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2000-2005". The National Plan of Action was elaborated on the basis of Beijing Strategies with taking into consideration the national priorities.
The parts of the National Plan of Action cover following issues:
Women and economics
Women and education
Women and health
Women and violence
Women and armed conflicts
Refugee and IDP women
Women and mass media
Women and Environment
The girl child
Participation of women in state structures and in decision-making
Development of contacts with international women's organizations
I. The Presidential Decree on Strengthening of gender policy
- to arrange the implementation of gender policy in state structures and increase the representation of women in Government at the decision-making level;
- to create gender disaggregated statistical data;
- to arrange legislative review with a view to make appropriate amendments and changes into the existing laws and strengthen the protection of women’s rights;
- to prepare and implement the program aimed at providing employment opportunities for women refugees and IDPs.
The Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan was authorized to provide the implementation of the Decree.
II. Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on guarantees of gender equality
Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on guarantees of gender equality was adopted by the parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan in December of 2006. The main purpose of this act is ensuring equal opportunities for women and men in the political, economic, social, cultural and other spheres of public life and elimination of all forms of discrimination on gender basis. This act defines main directions and purposes of state policy on achieving gender equality in the country.
III. State Committee on Family, Women and Child Issues
The State Committee on Family, Women and Child Issues was established on the basis of the State Committee on Women Issues by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan of 6 February, 2006. This is the only Government body responsible for the implementation and coordination of gender policy in Azerbaijan, the status of which is equal to that of a ministry.
Its goals are:
- to protect the rights of women in political, economic and social fields;
- to encourage the active participation of women in social and political life of the country;
- to elaborate the relevant national policy in the field of women's employment;
- to take joint measures aimed at resolving women's problems, protection of women's rights, employment of women in co-operation with the relevant state structures;
- to take measures aimed at development of co-operation between the relevant state structures and national and international women's organisations;
- to prepare of annual reports on social and economic status of women in Azerbaijan;
- to study and disseminate legislation on women's rights;
- to co-ordinate the implementation of the National Plan of Action on Women Issues of the Republic of Azerbaijan (adopted in 2000);
- to provide assistance to the refugee and IDP women and women from low-income families in social sphere;
- to elaborate the National Mechanism on Gender Policy.
IV. Gender Focal Points in State structures
Gender focal points were to be appointed in all Government structures, as well as in the Executive Power institutions in all regions of Azerbaijan. For the moment gender focal points act almost in all structures. They were appointed at the expert level, but in some ministries they act at the level of Deputy Minister/Chair or Adviser to the Minister/Chair.
They don’t have specific mandate and resources for implementing gender policy within their institutions.
One of the main functions of the gender focal points is to implement the relevant provisions of the National Plan of Action on women’s issues and to participate in working groups to discuss different documents to be adopted at national (inter-ministerial) level.
There is no any specific item in the national budget for the implementation of the state gender policy.
Promotion of gender equality, ensuring rights of women, increasing their social and political participation are the issues of great importance in our foreign policy. Activities in this direction were carried out during 2010 and 2011 years. Representatives of MFA actively participated in conferences and meetings dedicated to women.