By Ayya Lmahamad
Equality or non-discrimination is the state where every individual gets equal opportunities and rights.
Every individual of society strives for equal status, opportunities and rights. However, it is a general observation that discrimination based on cultural, geographical and gender differences still exists in the world.
Inequality based on gender is a concern that is prevalent in the entire world.
Gender equality means providing equal opportunities to both men and women in political, economic, education and health spheres. A nation can progress and attain higher development growth only when both men and women are entitled to equal opportunities.
Azerbaijan took a lot of measures to ensure gender equality, including the involvement of women in governance. According to the UN report, women in Azerbaijan’s parliament represent 18.2 percent of the total number of deputies. At the same time, in 2020, Sahiba Gafarova was elected as chair of Azerbaijan’s parliament - the first time in the country’s history when a woman has occupied this position.
At the state level, Azerbaijan is fully committed to gender equality. It has created a legal framework and policies to create an enabling environment for women’s empowerment in the social, political, and economic spheres.
It is worth mentioning that Azerbaijan has entered history as one of the first countries in the Muslim East to provide women with the right to vote and to be elected, back in 1918.
As to girls' education, the first secular school for girls was opened by Azerbaijani philanthropist Zeynalabdin Taghiyev in Baku in 1901. Nowadays, the literacy rate in Azerbaijan is close to 100 percent.
Both women and men in Azerbaijan are working together showing all their capabilities, strengths, and abilities. Azerbaijani women are closely involved in the country’s political, economic, cultural, and other areas.
To date, free training sessions are offered to women in human and economic rights, and skills such as business development, accounting, financial literacy, and computer science. In addition, a special platform has been launched in Azerbaijan to train women in the development of start-up projects.
There are currently nine Women Resource Centers in Azerbaijan that serve to promote gender equality and strengthen women’s entrepreneurial skills, helping them to overcome socio-economic challenges.
According to Azerbaijan’s constitution, men and women are equal before the law. The constitution also prohibits discrimination based on gender, including workplace discrimination. Article 21 of Azerbaijan’s law on state guarantees of equal rights for women and men, adopted on October 10, 2006, aims to eliminate all forms of gender-based discrimination and ensure gender equality in the political, economic, social, and cultural spheres.
Azerbaijan also ratified the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in 1995 and signed its optional protocol in 2000. The convention clarifies the meaning of "discrimination against women" and assigns the state organizations responsible for taking appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.
The State Committee on Women’s Affairs was established in January 1998 and was replaced by the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs in February 2006. The committee is responsible for implementing state policy on family, women and children’s affairs.
At the same time, Azerbaijan identified achieving gender equality as one of its Sustainable Development Goals.
Azerbaijan also closely cooperates with different international organizations like the UN and its entities UNDP and UNFPA, as well as the EU, in terms of ensuring gender equality.
Guaranteeing the rights of women and giving them opportunities to reach their full potential is critical not only for attaining gender equality but also for meeting a wide range of international development goals.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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