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What prevents the implementation of National Action Plan to Combat Gender Based Violence in Armenia?

16 days of activism against gender-based violence is coming to its end, but it lacked a single State announcement which would show the State’s support to the struggle against violence and discrimination. Yet already since 2011 the RA Government has adopted the National Action Plan to Combat Gender-Based Violence, as well as Strategic Action Plan for 2011-2015 which aims at promoting the reduction of gender-based violence.

 

The Action Plan, adopted 4 years ago, is quite ambitious and Armenia should have registered a serious progress in reducing gender-based violence in case it was completely implemented.  We spoke to Armenuhi Tanashyan, the head of the Women’s Affairs Department of the RA Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, to understand to what extend and how the Action Plan was implemented.

 

The latter stated that today it is impossible to evaluate to what extend gender-based violence reduced in the Republic, because there was no state survey since the Action Plan launch. “At this point, we have no criterion for comparison. I hope we will have a survey next year”, says Armenuhi Tanashyan.

 

In fact, notwithstanding the fact how the Action Plan was implemented, today it is hard to evaluate the work undertaken, as there is no new statistical data, as well as no criteria set for assessing the work of the State and its results.

 

Nevertheless, the head of the Women’s Affairs Department states that a huge work was implemented in the territory of the whole Republic.” Awareness raising activities implemented in all the regions of the RA and in Yerevan have an essential role in prevention of violence. Employees of the educational sphere were also trained, civil servants are undergoing special trainings as well.”

 

We have at hand reports of the annual events in frames of the National Action Plan to combat gender based violence where the implemented activities are listed according to departments. We turned to the experts of Women’s Resource Centre Armenia (WRCA), who reviewed the implementation of the National Plan, asking them to evaluate the implemented activities.

 

We should note that according to the Action Plan approved by the Government one of the main directions of combating gender-based violence in the Republic is the prevention of gender-based violence. The researchers of Women’s Resource Centre think that educational component ascribed by National Action Plan is a necessary but not a sufficient prerequisite to prevent gender-based violence.  As they observed, concrete activities, such as work with abusers, shelter provision, constant and targeted psychological and social service provision,  that would reduce cases of violence are not anticipated by the program.

 

The Action Plan included also protection of survivors of gender-based violence. To what extend does the State protects violence survivors today?

 

Gohar Shahnazaryan, the co-founder of Women’s Resource Centre NGO, states; “Protection of gender-based violence survivors ascribed by the national Action Plan is not fully implemented; some activities were covered, some not. Activities were mainly implemented in cooperation with NGOs and international organizations”. The best mechanism to protect gender-based violence survivors, according to her, would be the adoption of a separate law.

 

However, Armenuhi Tanashyan, the head of the Women’s Affairs Department of the RA Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, considers that they registered a serious success during recent years.

 

“We know the field, we conducted researches, teams are formed in regional administrations,  there are committees which discuss these issues.  Today we have working groups on the level of ministries and regional administrations. We have a very good cooperation both with local and international organizations…”, she says.

 

Yet, WRCA researchers’ opinion differs from that of the official. “In general, planned activities were implemented but with certain reservations. There were trainings that were omitted because of the lack of financial resources, besides, trainings for teachers and pupils are said to be implemented but it is hard to find the participants”, they state.

 

Armenuhi Tanashyan confesses that the reason for slow advancement is the lack of finances. “If we had serious professional services starting from consultation and ending up with shelters, our work would be much more productive.”

 

So did RA Government lack financial resources to come up with an official announcement during 16 days of activism to combat gender-based violence? Or is this role reserved for international organizations and foreign ambassadors?

 

Whatsoever, the Government “concerned” with the gender inequality condition in the country shall summarize the Strategic Plan to Combat Gender-Based Violence in 2015 and adopt a new one for 2016-2020. Let’s hope that future Strategic Plan is not only totally implemented but also implies clear criteria for assessing its efficiency, so that it won’t turn out that the struggle against gender-based violence on State level is carried out only for a “checkmark” .

 

Arman Gharibyan

The article was prepared on the initiative of  “Society Without Violence” NGO with the support of UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

 

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