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Parliamentary Hearings on the draft law “On Provision of Women’s and Men’s Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities”

 

On the initiative of the RA National Assembly Standing Committees on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs and on European Integration and by the support of the Advisory Group of the European Union in the RA on January 19 parliamentary hearings were held in the parliament on the bill “On Providing Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities.” With participation of the RA NA Speaker Samvel Nikoyan, deputies, members of the government, Human Rights Defender and representatives of the international organizations and NGOs the works done on draft law, as well as the issues not still being solved were wound up.

 

Welcoming the participants of the hearings the RA NA Speaker Samvel Nikoyan expressed hope that the hearings were aimed at the reinforcement of protection of human rights and democracy in Armenia, and the discussions would promote the improvement of the bill. The Head of the Parliament talked about the political, legal, historical substantiations of the adoption of the law, also observed it from the view of the national security.

 

The speaker has especially touched upon the historical bases of the problem and has noted that the women’s and men’s equal rights is not alien to our national description, it is the component part of our culture. Armenian woman has always been next to Armenian man. “The monuments of the Armenian law serve as bright testimony,” the NA Speaker said and substantiated that since the beginning of the 4th century the monuments of the Armenian law say about the women’s and men’s equal rights, in particular, Shahapivan’s Book of Rules, Davit Alavkavordi’s Book of Rules, Mkhitar Gosh’s Armenian Law Book, National Constitution of Constantinople (1863). In the 12th century Mkhitar Gosh’s Armenian Law Book writes about the women’s property rights, recognition and respect of honour and dignity, law of the woman’s marriage, marriage age, being divorced, marrying for the second time and other rights. And today, according to the speaker, the perception of women’s and men’s equal rights is directly given in Shahamir Shahamiryan’s “Vorogayt Parats” (“Snare of Glory”) which was written in 1773, and according to which, women and men are legally rqual irrespective of their gender, citizenship and have no right to rule on each other.

 

The NA Speaker also touched upon the National Constitution of Constantinople, in the preface of which a number of women’s rights are directly noted: getting equal education with men, social security, etc. According to this Constitution, not having right to voting, women have actively participated in the works of the National Assembly, implementing a number of social, educational charity, healthcare programmes. Mr Nikoyan also quoted the years of the first republic, when the women had right of voting and of being voted.

 

According to the Head of the Parliament, this means that throughout the centuries the Armenian political mind has given values to the human civilization and gender mind, and those values bring back the all-human civilization today.

 

“We shall perceive it as granted and accept, because it is our forgotten old,” the NA Speaker said.

 

The NA Speaker also has substantiated the women’s involvement in different spheres, noting that in our republic women are the majority, that they are literate, beautiful and nice. “Not to use that power, that opportunity will be a luxury for small nation,” the Head of the Parliament said and added that we should try to find the approaches of making the gender legal equal as practical mechanism. That right is given by Constitution and laws but mechanisms of use are not given, which, in the NA Speaker’s opinion, will be added in this law. In his word, the NA Speaker also noted the important role of the NGOs: throughout the years the civil society persistently could make perceivable the idea of gender equality for the deputies and wide layers of the society. The NA Speaker thanked the organizers and participants for the shown interest.

 

To the conviction of Aram Safaryan, Chair of the NA Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs, the discussion with such dimension creates good preconditions for having a package of proposals and comments on the draft law after the first reading for elaborating it later. The joint draft law prepared by the Government and the Rule of Law Faction, have already received the endorsement of the head committee and it is designed to pass it in the upcoming four-day sittings. Naira Zohrabyan, Chair of the Standing Committee on European Integration, considered the adoption of the draft law being late and added that we should fix acting and distinct mechanisms for creating women’s and men’s equal conditions and opportunities. Karen Andreasyan, Human Rights Defender, in his speech has expressed disagreement with the view that the gender equality is an artificial phenomenon imported from the West, saying that the cases of violence against women are numerous, and the direct unequal competitive conditions in Armenia. He has said that in the office led by him a Human Rights Defender being involved with the women’s issues works from this year.

 

In the hearings Filaret Berikyan, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs and Heghine Bisharyan, Head of the Rule of Law Faction, presented the subject and the main principles of the regulation of the draft law. Jemma Hasratyan, Chair of the “Association of Women with University Education,” in her speech wound up the opinions of the NGOs. Naira Zohrabyan has noticed that in the parliament of this convocation 11 women deputies are active in all spheres.

 

 

Ambassador Traian Hristea, Head of the European Union Delegation to the RA, said during his tenure within one month and a half succeeded to evaluate the Armenian women’s mental high abilities and addressed a question: why don’t we use this big potential? The Ambassador presented the EU experience in this issue and expressed the EU support for determining equal rights and opportunities in all spheres.

 

Dafina Gercheva, the UN Resident Coordinator to Armenia, quoted a passage from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, where the economic, social development without gender equality and use of 50% potential of population is considered impossible. Armenia has defined gender equality by Constitution and laws, however, in her words, adoption of laws is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for establishing real equality. The deputies also noted other shortcomings, which should be rectified until the adoption of the final version.

 

At the end of the discussions Jemma Hasratyan noticed that these hearings were real manifestation of participation democracy. She also expressed her impression that there was progress in the issue of reinforcement of gender equality: the NA Speaker’s participation and speech also testified to it.

 

The two committees of the parliament will discuss the views sounded in the hearings and the proposals received there with the expectation of reflecting them in the elaborated document.

 

NA Public Relations and Media Department

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