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Ombudsman’s annual report. Why aren’t women represented in high positions in the Armed Forces?

In his 2019 annual report, Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan paid close attention to the issue of women’s involvement in the Armed Forces, legislative regulations related to the protection of their rights, concerns about gender inequality in the sector and its consequences, obstacles to women’s advancement, and other solutions.


The representation of women in the Armed Forces will contribute to peace


Thus, the ombudsman first of all emphasizes that only men are subject to compulsory military service in Armenia, and women are involved in military service only on a contractual basis. Meanwhile, participation in the defense of the state, membership in the armed forces is an integral part of the rights and responsibilities arising from citizenship.


According to the Human Rights Defender, in case of deprivation of the right to be involved in the Armed Forces, women and men find themselves in unequal conditions. In the absence of experience in the Armed Forces, women will have less opportunity to express their views on security issues. Meanwhile, the participation of women in the Armed Forces is of great importance in terms of their participation in the settlement and resolution of conflicts.


In this regard, the Human Rights Defender of Armenia cites UN Security Council Resolution 325 of 2000, which affirms that the absence of women’s participation in decision-making, the prevalence of violence against them, prolongs conflicts, destabilizes entire regions and hinders the peaceful settlement of conflicts.


The annual program mentions that women play a unique role in the most difficult periods of the Armenian people’s history, including during the Artsakh liberation war. It is difficult to underestimate the role of women in the current armed forces.


“Consequently, the state should spare no effort to guarantee women’s rights in the RA Armed Forces,” the Human Rights Defender stressed.


Protection of women’s rights involved in the Armed Forces


As a result of the general study of military legislation, norms that clearly discriminate against women have not been found by the Ombudsman’s Office. They are mostly gender-neutral, and in this case, problems often arise because of the not taking into consideration gender.


“A study of cases of restriction of labor rights allows us to conclude that they are mainly related to the exercise of women’s labor rights. Therefore, in order to more effectively protect the rights of female soldiers, it is necessary to make several legislative changes, ”the ombudsman suggested as a solution.


If your husband is a soldier, you have to not to see him for months


The Defender addresses the issues facing both military and civil servants, as well as the issues facing spouses serving in different systems. The Human Rights Defender states that they do not have sufficient legal guarantees for joint service.


There are no legal guarantees for the contract soldier to be transferred to a new place of service in case of transferring his / her spouse (wife) holding a civilian position in the same military unit to a new place of service with him / her, as well as the transfer of one of the spouses serving in different systems to a new place of service in the military unit as close as possible to the other spouse.


There are no incentives for women with young children


Examining the military legislation, the Ombudsman’s Office found that there are no incentive norms for female soldiers who have the opportunity to use the leave provided for the care of a child under three years of age, but did not use that leave voluntarily. The lack of incentives may be an obstacle to women’s decision to return to military service


Female servicemen are mostly deprived of the opportunity to advance


In the annual program, the Ombudsman draws attention to a problematic legal settlement. We are talking about Article 53, Part 4 of the RA Law on Military Service and Status of Servicemen, which does not allow taking into account the period of maternity leave, as well as the period of leave for child care.


2016 PACE “Women in the Armed Forces. Promoting Gender Equality, Eliminating Gender-Based Violence ” Point 2 of Resolution 2120  states: Despite the fact that in recent decades, European armies have become increasingly positive about recruiting women, women in the military, especially those with high commanding ranks, continue to be a minority.


According to the Ministry of Defense, 9.1% of the total number of contract military personnel are female soldiers. 3.8% of the Armed Forces personnel are female officers, 23.1% are senior non-commissioned officers, 8.3% are junior non-commissioned officers, and 8% are contract soldiers.


This proves that women are not yet sufficiently represented in high positions, and there are stereotypes in society about women being considered decision makers. As a result, female soldiers are largely deprived of the opportunity to advance.


There is no special clothing for pregnant women


The Human Rights Defender raised the issue of an inadmissible act. It is about the difference in the amount of security provided to female soldiers performing the same functions. Women get them less often than men, and there are differences in the amount of uniforms given to men and women involved in combat duty. At the same time, the lack of material security provided to female soldiers is due not to the nature of their service, but only to the fact that they are women, which is unacceptable.


The mentioned problem was registered by the Defender’s annual report for 2018. The Ministry of Defense informed that the current measures to provide the personnel of the Armed Forces with real funds are being amended, and they will be submitted to the Minister for approval.


Ombudsman’s proposals


To address issues related to women in the military, the ombudsman has taken steps to increase the role of women in the armed forces, such as increasing the coverage of women’s daily military service and providing military training for both men and women.


The Human Rights Defender also suggests conducting research and surveys to find out the motives of females involved in the Armenian Armed Forces to serve, continue or stop it, and suggest making all positions of the RA Armed Forces available to women in all types of troops.


Arman Tatoyan emphasizes that the legislative gaps should be understood a few days ago, female servicemen should develop indicators of early warning about violations of rights, create unions of female servicemen and support their activities.


The Human Rights Defender’s recommendations for resolving this issue, as well as the report, can be found in full here.

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