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“Quota should work as a platform and not as a ceiling”

A month after the Yerevan City Council elections and on the threshold of extraordinary elections to the National Assembly on October 19, women’s political participation issues were discussed in Armenia’s electoral processes. The discussion was organized within the framework of the “Equal” Campaign, implemented by the OCSE Foundation, with the collaboration of ProMedia-Gender NGO and the Swedish Government’s financial support.


It should be noted that 982 candidates applied for 65 council seats in Yerevan Council of Elderly elections, of which 356 were women or 36.2% were women. These elections were unprecedented in the sense of women’s ambitions, as for the first time three female candidates were fighting for the post of Mayor of Yerevan. But Yerevan does not yet have a female mayor, neither in the past, nor today.


In the opening speech of the round-table discussion, the head of the “OXEGEN” fund, Margarita Hakobyan, presenting the key directions of the “Equal” campaign, noted that according to already established tradition, not only women’s participation in the elections to the Yerevan Council of Elderly has been analyzed but also information support was provided to female candidates irrespective of their party affiliation.


In his opening remarks, Martin Fredrickson, the Charge d ‘Affaires of the Embassy of Sweden in the Republic of Armenia, referring to the data of the participation of women represented within the frame of  the “Equal” campaign, expressed an opinion that, unlike a few years ago, the situation has changed in Armenia today. Women’s participation, according to him, has increased in political processes, but still does not correspond to the resource that the country has in the face of women.


Within the framework of the discussion, the head of ProMedia-Gender NGO Tamara Hovnatanyan and gender expert Lilit Zakaryan presented an analytical report on “Women’s Participation in Yerevan City Council Elections” prepared within the framework of the “Equal” campaign, with the question as to the extent to which women’s issues were reflected in the pre-electoral campaign programs and their campaigns.


Expert Lilit Zakaryan presented the pre-election program analysis from the point of view of the principles of fair governance of the city, noting that none of the programs distinguishes women and men with special needs and requirements. “But in many programs, there were provisions that fit the concept of fair governance of the city and, consequently, can be viewed as gender sensitive. In addition, there were formulations that corresponded to the different NGOs’ programs and actually included in the pre-election programs of political forces. Some progress has been made in this regard ”


As for members of the council of elders, Gayane Abrahamyan, a member of the “My Step” faction, also agreed that the smaller progress we have today is not only the work of a velvet revolution in Armenia, but also for long years of NGOs. She noticed that the progress cannot be seen with digital images, but it is clear that the quality of female politicians has changed.


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