Tag Archives: gender

For many years civil society organisations, activists, individuals have been fighting for having Law on Gender-Based Violence in Armenia. The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women together with its lawyers drafted a law and presented it to the Ministry of Justice years ago; however, there was no progress with the initiative.
The European Union has offered Armenia human rights budget support for 2017 with conditionalities attached, one of which is that the country adopts a law on gender-based violence in 2016. This condition reflects the importance of stopping violence against women, a value to which the EU strongly prescribes and which it promotes both at home and abroad.
On 14 October 2016, the Ministry of Justice organised a consultation with civil society organisations to engage in the process of drafting and defining the key elements of a law on gender-based violence.
The meeting was moderated by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Vigen Kocharyan, who welcomed this participatory process: ‘This draft law was prepared by a special group and initiated by the Armenian government. This is the first draft to be discussed with CSO representatives. Their years of practice and experience will be highly relevant. We welcome criticism, but mostly we want to listen to what civil society has to offer, both conceptually and detailed analysis of the provisions of the law itself. We are open for dialogue and, while this consultation is the first, it will not be the last’.
CSOs represented included different NGOs and members of Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women. Susanna Vardanyan, Head of the Women rights Centre and a member of the Coalition, welcomed the invitation: ‘We appreciate this meeting and initiative, as we have been fighting for this issue for many, many years. We are happy that the initial draft which we prepared and presented to the government has been partly reflected in the new version. We have discussed it with our lawyers, and prepared some offers and observations’.
The meeting concluded with the decision to organise a second consultation with CSO representatives once the feedback has been incorporated and the draft finalised to engage in a final round of discussions.

To mark International Women’s Day the EU-funded “Combating Gender-Biased Sex Selection in Armenia” project organised an event to discuss sex-biased abortions in Armenia, and achievements and lessons learned in combating it. Partner organisations presented their initiatives targeting the cessation of gender-biased sex selection and how to optimise coordination and find synergies.
Since May 2015, the International Centre for Human Development has been implementing the project in partnership with Stichting Save the Children Nederland, Armavir Development Centre, Martuni Women’s Community Council and Save the Children International. The EU’s financial contribution to the project is €750,000; partners have allocated €42,000.
The overall objective of the project is to reduce gender-biased sex selection in Armenia. The project aims to make at least a 15% positive change in knowledge, attitude and perception of target population groups toward gender-biased sex selection, and at least a 10% reduction in the number of sex-selective abortions.
This impact will be consolidated through three major results: (i) local CSOs, community leaders and authorities are equipped with necessary knowledge and skills, and have a good understanding of the negative consequences of gender-biased sex selection; (ii) a positive change in public perception and attitude towards gender-biased sex selection is achieved; (iii) a policy framework is effective in the prevention of gender-biased sex selection.
ARS_8736The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Switalski, also took part in the session and expressed his thoughts: ‘In a healthy society, the sex ratio should not go beyond 102 boys per 105 girls; for Armenia, the figure for boys is above 110. It is not good for the image of the country, and indeed makes the country and society suffer, as every year Armenia loses more than 1400 girls. This is bad for long-term demographic tendencies and undermines a healthy societal gender balance. Most of you know better than me how bad this phenomenon is in Armenia. The EU is here to help the Armenian government and society to solve the problem. We have already allocated €750,000 for this important project’.
The Armenian Deputy Minister of Health, Sergey Khachatryan, also stressed the project’s importance: ‘It is symbolic organising this event on 9 March, the day after International Women’s Day. We have to work every day on raising women’s issues, not only on 8 March. Today we are going to talk about the results of the project so far, which are the most important part of the work we have done together. We have already noticed positive changes in the numbers and I am sure that we will have more achievements soon’.
Filaret Berikyan, the Armenian Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, emphasised the importance of the society’s inclusiveness in solving the problem: ‘When we saw the numbers on this issue for the first time, we were so surprised. However, over the last two years, together with CSOs and project partners, we were able to change public opinion. I can notice it in my own surroundings now. Of course, the legislative part is very important for this issue, but we have also to evaluate the role of public campaigns and discussions’.

The UN General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day in 1950 to bring the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. The EU Delegation to Armenia organised on International Human Rights Day this year a public debate entitled “Women as an Active Part of the Civil Society”. The Acting Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Dirk Lorenz, attended the event and, on behalf of the European Union, announced the EU determination to remain key partner for Armenia in various areas of development: ‘Gender equality is an issue which is very high on the EU agenda. In this regard we are working with the government, as well as with civil society. We have initiated a number of projects aimed at combating violence against women; within the scope of our efforts we are providing financial support to civil society organisations to raise awareness and provide adequate support. Additionally, we have launched another project aimed at decreasing selective abortions, which is sadly a common issue in the country’. He highlighted that the EU intended to foster economic growth in Armenia and that it evaluates women’s rights as an important step in societal development.

International Human RIghts Day lecture (2)The Head of Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, Olexander Pavlyuk, highlighted the importance of similar discussions and talked about the active participation of the Council of Europe in women’s rights promotion: ‘The Council of Europe considers women’s rights and gender equality as integral parts of human rights. The Armenian government should give priority to the development of efficient gender-equality strategies. On 1 August a legal treaty was issued by the Council of Europe – a convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence. This is the first instrument in Europe of its kind: it is aimed at preventing violence and promoting equality between women and men’.

Participants in the public debate expressed hope that preventing violence against women would stay on the table of discussions and would remain a high priority as an integral aspect of human rights. They also added that they hoped the public debate would become a milestone on the path of promoting women’s rights in the country.

UN Resident Coordinator (a.i.) Henriette Ahrens spoke further on women’s rights in Armenia: ‘UNICEF looks forward to further implementation of the law on preventing domestic violence and violence against women. In contemporary society, men are seen as protectors and security enablers. Women are valued less, in fact they are frequently considered to be tools for taking care of children. The UN significantly contributes to raising women’s role in the economic and political life of the country’.

UN Women UK representative Tuula Nieminen (1)
The keynote speaker of the event, UN Women UK representative Tuula Nieminen, gave a presentation entitled “Women’s rights are human rights”, which showed opportunities for making gender equality a reality: ‘Women rights are human rights; in order to protect women rights it is crucial to comprehend relations between social institutions and the government, which in fact affect economy, social dynamics, family and community life. Gender stereotypes should be broken so that women can be perceived as they are, along with their needs and wishes.