The legal framework and policies pursued by the Government of Azerbaijan create enabling environment for women to exercise their rights and advance their position in the society. Since independence, Azerbaijan has ratified almost all essential international documents on the protection of women's rights including the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 1995. The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan enshrines a philosophy of equality between men and women. Azerbaijan also adopted the Law On Guarantees of Gender (Men and Women) Equality (2006) and the Law on Domestic Violence (2010).
However, in Azerbaijan, like in many other countries, there is a gap between legal acts and their enforcement. Women still face vertical and horizontal segregation in many sectors of employment, and are concentrated mainly in low-wage sectors, deemed suitable for the ‘female nature’ such as education, health and social services. Disparities observed in the level of men’s and women’s empowerment are, to a large extent, accounted for by patriarchal attitudes and the stereotypes regarding women roles and responsibilities in the family and society, which are a root cause of women’s disadvantaged position in public life, the labour market and other domains.
The recent CEDAW review has called Azerbaijan to “intensify its efforts, particularly in rural areas, to bring about change in the widely accepted attitudes leading to the subordination of women and the stereotypical roles applied to both sexes. Such measures should include awareness-raising and educational campaigns targeting, inter alia, community leaders, parents, teachers, officials and young girls and boys.”
UNDP Gender Programme responds to this call by supporting the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Affairs Support in their efforts to promote rural women participation in economic and social life. The programme helps rural women in the Sabirabad region increase the level of their economic activity and community activism through capacity development and network building. It also seeks to sensitize private sector to gender needs and interests of women in rural areas, and builds capacity of the State Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Affairs to address the needs of rural women through advocacy and policy development.
UNDP also partners with Leader Women Public Union for the establishment of a Gender Study and Research Centre at the State Pedagogical University. The is particularly well placed to promote gender sensitive approaches and attitudes, as, through its graduates, it can diffuse knowledge in schools.
UNDP has teamed up with IOM to conduct a survey on the situation of migrants’ spouses staying behind in Azerbaijan. The project strives to achieve better understanding and enhanced awareness among policy makers on the special needs of this vulnerable population group and existing gaps in policy, as well as provide legal support and increase awareness on access procedures for the legal assistance.
Last but not least, UNDP contributes to the UN System wide efforts to raise awareness on gender issues by participating in the annual 16 Days of Activism Campaign.