Azerbaijani mentality impedes women’s empowerment: STUDY
Azerbaijan, Baku, March 6 / Trend , K.Zarbaliyeva/
Azerbaijan ranks 61st for the gender equality worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum 2008 report.
Azerbaijan dropped from 59th place in 2007 to 61 in 2008.
Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand, Philippines, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands and Latvia are top ten countries, the report says.
The inequality in political rights (14 percent) and economic activity (57 percent) is being eliminated at a slow pace.
Azerbaijan has poor gender equality rating as men have been doing great part of management for many years.
Though some stereotypes were shattered for the last years, still much must be done with this regard. Men account for greater part of staff in governmental agencies and offices and they hold greater part of high-rank positions. Therefore, women can take part in decision making to a very small extent. However, women's role in the society and their contribution to the development is an undeniable fact.
The Azerbaijani Constitution stipulates equal rights for men and women and provides a legal framework for women's participation in building democratic state.
Article 25 says men and women enjoy equal rights and freedoms. The State guarantees everyone's rights and freedoms regardless of their race, nationality, religion, language, sex, origin, property, walk of life, faith, party membership, membership in trade unions and public organizations.
Article 55 stipulates that Azerbaijani citizens including women have a right to elect and to be elected for the governmental agencies and participate in referendum.
Azerbaijani President signed a Decree on Implementation of the State Women Policy on March 6, 2000 to ensure women's active participation in the governmental agencies.
The decree ordered to promote women to high-rank positions in the governmental agencies given their field of activity, the State Statistics Committee to prepare and disseminate comprehensive information about women, the Cabinet of Ministers to provide equal conditions for women during economic reforms based on gender policy and to develop proposals to amend the laws to better women's rights protection.
The decree also instructed heads of ministries and administrative bodies to promote women to higher positions.
Though certain measures were taken in this regard, women hold small part of high-rank positions in the governmental agencies.
Experts attribute this fact to a number of reasons such as labor distribution between men and women, women's hardships to shatter stereotypes etc.
Experts argue it is important to pass obligatory rules to shatter stereotypes and empower women.
They say women can not hold high-rank positions due to absence of appropriate conditions and equal opportunities.
Experts believe women mostly suffer abuse of economic rights. The employers usually prefer men as women can show poor quality work for the family reasons. As a result, women become housewives and left aside from the active participation in public life.
The State Committee for Family, Women and Children deputy chairman Sadagat Gahramanova told Trend that Azerbaijani men dominate almost in all fields. Women do play a very small role in decision making. Gender inequality creates certain problems for Azerbaijan. There is propensity towards "patriarchal" relations. Women's employment and participation in the political life is not approved in most cases, she said.
"I believe people must be better educated to eliminate discrimination and to allow individuals to prove their potential and raise political culture," she said.
Only 5 percent of heads of government are women around the world
The UN department responsible for women's role in society and Inter-Parliamentary Union announced last year that though women's role in politics has increased, this process is too slow.
About 17-18 percent of members of parliament and ministers around the world are women. Women account for 10 percent of speakers and 5 percent of heads of the government.
The number of countries with women member of parliaments have increased compared to the 2006. About 30 percent of MPs are women in 30 countries. There are more countries with 40 percent women MPs. Rwanda ranks first for the number of women MPs. About 48 percent of MPs account for women in this country. Sweden ranks second with 47 percent and Finland third with 41 percent.
The number of women MPs has hit 20 percent in the South America for the last years. The United Arab Emirates saw a dramatic increase in women MPs. About 22 percent of MPs account for women in the UAE while the parliament lacked a single woman MP before. A total of 7 parliaments worldwide lack woman MPs.
There were 19 countries without woman minister several years ago. This figure has dropped up to 13 at the moment. Women account for more than half of ministers in Finland.
There are 192 presidents all over the world. Only 8 of them are women.
Azerbaijan lacks woman minister
Women account for 51 percent and men 49 percent of Azerbaijan's 8.730-million population according to the State Statistics Committee.
Women able to work account for 2 million, employed women 1.963 million, women working for wage 615,100 and women not working for hire 1.487 million. About 475,500 women work in state sector and 1.487 million in private sector.
About 838,700 of women are engaged in agriculture, 6,100 power engineering, gas and water supply, 17,000 construction, 432,300 trade, 8,400 hotels and restaurants, 31,900 transport and communication, 70,200 public administration, security and obligatory social protection, 220,100 education and 136,400 social services.
Only 20 of 600 citizens employed in embassies, representative offices and consulates with an immunity right are women.
The State Committee for Family, Women and Children said women are taking an increasing role in decision making and more employed in the governmental agencies gradually. A total of 31 local administrative bodies have deputy woman heads. Women account for 14 or 11 percent of 125 MPs at the Azerbaijani parliament. One of the speaker's deputies and one head of the parliamentary commission are women.
Constitutional Court deputy chairman, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic Cabinet of Ministers deputy chairman, the State Committee for Family, Women and Children chairman and two deputy chairman, the State Student Admission Commission chairman, four deputy ministers, one ambassador and one permanent representative, ombudsman and Nakhichivan Autonomous Republic ombudsman in Azerbaijan are women.
The committee said there are more women in education and health care with 67.9 percent and 70.2 percent respectively.
Four of 16 Central Election Commission members and three of 125 constituency chairpersons are women.
Women are very active in the non-governmental organizations. There are roughly 90 women NGOs in Azerbaijan.
There is no women minister in Azerbaijan. As many as 80 administrative body heads does not include any woman.
Is there a need to set quotas for women's employment in governmental agencies?
The UN recommendations to improve women's conditions developed in 1991 +described 30-percent quota as a minimum indicator to democratize governmental agencies.
Norway has set at least 30-percent quota on women's employment and Swedish parliament 51 percent.
Some experts oppose quotas. They say setting quotas for women downgrades them. Not sex, but education and skills must be key requirements for employment.
Some experts say though quotas will create problems at early stage, it can yield results with time.
Ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova said to Trend that she does not back setting quotas for women's employment in the governmental agencies. "I oppose quotas. The more skilled women workers we have, the more they will be employed. If there are less skilled workers in a certain field, non-skilled workers will be recruited for this field once quotas are set. We must try to employ women in all fields."
The State Committee for Family, Women and Children deputy chairman Gahramanova does not also support setting quotas.
A democratic society must provide equal opportunities for men and women. The requirements for civil service must include not sex, but skills, ethical qualifications, world outlook and education.
Azerbaijani women face discrimination mainly in the law-enforcement agencies
Experts on women's rights say Azerbaijani women face discrimination mainly in the law-enforcement agencies
The Interior Ministry told Trend that the interior agencies employ 615 women. As many as 219 of them are officers and 386 rank and file workers.
A total of 80 woman officers are lawyers. Nineteen of them have been promoted. High-rank positions held by women include deputy department head, assistant to department head and head of a hospital.
The Interior Ministry said interior agencies in the regions employ very small number of women. However, the number of employed women has increased compared to previous years.
The Law Court Council said 12 percent of judges are women. Five women are court chairman.
As many as 105 of the 700 Bar members are women. Six of them are chairmen of law consulting centers and 1 of them is the lawyers' bureau chairperson.
As many as 876 women are employed in justice agencies; 88 of them hold high-rank positions. These women are Civilian Registrar's head, notaries and department heads. The Prosecutor General's Office did not reveal number of employed women.
The monitoring conducted as a part of the Women Lawyers project in 2007 revealed problems hindering women lawyers' professional activity. Many women lawyers had to give up their job as a number of infrastructure facilities were closed down.
For instance, women lawyers with babies cannot give their children to kindergartens. As a result they give up work to bring up their children.
Many of the women engaged in state and private sector lose their jobs after maternity leave and leave of long duration. However, Labor Code Article 79 prohibits employers to lay off pregnant women and women with children aged up to three years. It is almost impossible to retain the job after long-term leave in the private sector.
The report said women lawyers face problems while meeting with their clients in the remand prisons. Sometimes women lawyers have to wait for a long time at the police offices and remand prisons before they meet their client. It hinders them to solve their family problems.
There is very small number of women candidates applying for vacancies in the civil service via exams as they are less informed about it than men.
Present national traditions prevent women from working as lawyers in police, customs, and tax agencies.
Experts say the law enforcement agencies must set quota and provide for women's employment to eliminate this discrimination.
Lawyer Alovsat Aliyev said the law enforcement agencies' heads must be required to promote women to heads of departments. At least one woman must work in each police office, department and Prosecutor's Office.
Ombudsman Suleymanova said to Trend that women must be employed in the governmental agencies more and more every year.
She said Azerbaijan does not encounter illiteracy problems unlike some eastern countries.
"Some men earning good wages think that their spouses need not to work. Women are not allowed to work specifically in the regions. When woman works she does not only earn money, but also proves her potential and improves her skills. This factor contributes to children's upbringing. Women's involvement in management is one of the ways to make families stronger," ombudsman said.
Suleymanova said women must be provided with equal opportunities to exercise rights stipulated by laws and international conventions.
She said the current indicators do not allow to reveal potential of Azerbaijani women.
The Civil Service Commission under President deputy chairman Vafadar Misirov told Trend that the commission has conducted 5 competitions and 4 interviews thus far to fill up vacancies in the governmental agencies.
About 1,772 of the 8,109 candidates applied for the civil service via competition and 68 via interview. Women accounted for 1,840 or 22.69 percent of them.
A total of 115 (22.33 percent) of the employed candidates were women.
Misirov attributed men candidate's outnumbering women candidates to several reasons.
The first reason is that it is usually parents who choose profession for their daughters. Parents prefer either education or health care. Therefore women account for greater of part of those employed in health care and education, he said.
The second reason is that women mostly prefer accounting positions in governmental agencies.
The third factor is that the civil service vacancies were announced mainly in regional branches and offices.
Unlike Baku, Ganja and other large cities, in the regions greater proportion of candidates who applied for vacancies were men as women are not active enough in public life here.
The competitions and interviews announced by the commission revealed that women are more interested to work at the State Committee for Family, Women and Children (77.72 percent of 193 candidates), Education Ministry (45.05 percent of 293 candidates), Culture and Tourism Ministry (39.13 percent of 345 candidate), Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry (26.26 percent of 457 candidates), State Migration Service (21.11 percent of 791 candidates) and Economic Development Ministry (13.94 percent of 1,069 candidates).
According to results of four interviews, around 20.12 percent or 68 of the 337 candidates registered with 21 governmental agencies were women.
However, women accounted for 19.01 of all candidates applied to the Labor and Social Protection Ministry and 26 percent for the Economic Development Ministry for employment.
Misirov said the public civil service policy stipulates equal rights regardless of sex in civil employment. "The candidates are required just to pass competitions and interviews held in a transparent way by the commission."
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