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Top ten events of 2019, presented by WomenNet.am

WomenNet.am presents its top ten events on expanding women’s rights and opportunities in 2019

 

  1. March 8th was marked by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Assembly

 

On March 8th, representatives of the National Assembly and women’s NGOs signed a memorandum of understanding at the Gilded Hall of the National Assembly. The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding is to create a platform for cooperation between the legislative body of the Republic of Armenia and representatives of civil society to combine efforts to ensure the real equality of rights and opportunities for men and women. The signing was held during the event entitled “Civil Society-National Assembly Cooperation Platform for Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women” organized by the RA National Assembly and the Oxygen Foundation.

 

In 2019, 10 meetings were held within the framework of the platform, with 5 of the proposals discussed turning into legislative initiatives, and another 9 are still pending.

 

  1. Age discrimination in the labor market was prohibited by law

 

Employers will no longer be entitled to mention age restrictions in job announcements, as this will be prohibited by law. On September 10th, the National Assembly unanimously approved a draft law proposing to fix age-based discrimination in employment. During the discussion of the draft law a number of other features were included in the list of discrimination. As a result, the Labor Code of the Republic of Armenia has been amended to the new 3.1. Article “Prohibition of Discrimination”…

 

  1. “There is no argument to justify the lower participation of women in local self-government”

 

The official launch of the Women in Politics project in February will be implemented in 2.5 years in 450 not enlarged communities by UNDP in Armenia and the OxYGen Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development and funded by the UK Good Governance Fund.

 

It should be noted that during 2019 local self-government elections were held four times, on February 17th, June 9th, September 29th, and December 8th. In total, out of the 60 mayors elected, only one woman (1.6%) was elected, and 178 (9.5%) out of 178 councilors.

 

As of April 2019, the number of female community leaders in the 502 communities of the republic was 1.6%, while the number of women councilors was 9.7%.

 

  1. The Gender Policy Strategy was approved and a Council on Women’s Issues was formed

 

On September 19th , the Government of the Republic of Armenia adopted a Decision “On the Approval of the Strategy and Action Plan for Gender Policy 2019-2023”.

 

On November 21, RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a decision on setting up a council on women’s issues. The Council was headed by RA Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan. The Council was created to coordinate work on women’s issues and to establish a national mechanism for ensuring equal rights and opportunities for men and women. In essence, the council will be a national mechanism for ensuring gender equality in Armenia. On December 10th, the first meeting of the Women’s Council took place.

 

  1. The parties are responsible for the political progress of women

 

In the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia debates on the amendments to the Law on Political Parties were launched, among which, among other issues, for the first time, the responsibility of the parties to involve women in political parties and ensure their political progress was raised. Suggestions include quota representation of women and men in party governing bodies, as well as gender sensitive principles in party founding documents and internal regulations.

 

  1. Changes are needed to support families with young children

 

In August 2019, UNICEF released new recommendations on pro-family policies; Pro-family policy. shaping the workplace of the future ”states that paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks, child benefits, and affordable and quality care are still not available to the vast majority of parents worldwide.

 

The Government of the Republic of Armenia, on the one hand, has stated that the provision of work-life and family-care integration opportunities for women is one of its priorities, on the other hand, in the context of improving the demographic situation, has announced that all programs should be aimed at ensuring that by 2021 the average of the Republic of Armenia each statistical family should have the desire and ability to have at least three children. To this end, it has promised to double the lump-sum birth allowance six times in 2020, increase the monthly allowance to working mothers by 41 percent, eliminate the vicious phenomenon called “kindergarten queue”.

 

By the way, on the initiative of the Yerevan Council of Elders, there are paid daycare groups in Yerevan kindergartens starting from September 2019, which will allow working parents to no longer break their minds about how to get a child out of kindergarten at 17:30 if your working day ends18:00 or 19:00.

 

  1. “Women are like oxygen, the higher you go, the less they are”

 

The issue of women’s representation at the decision-making level came under scrutiny following the posting of RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Facebook page in which he touched upon the indicators of women’s participation in government. Almost the same thing he repeated later at his September 16th press conference on “100 Facts About New Armenia”.

 

“There is one female minister in our government, 12 female deputy ministers. Two of the three deputies in the prime minister’s office are women. One of the SRC Deputy Chairmen is a woman, and one of the Deputy Chairmen of the Urban Development Committee is a woman. In addition, women  head the Civil Aviation Committee, Social Security Service, State Tourism Committee. This list can be continued, but I think our government outperforms all previous governments of Armenia with the involvement of women, ”the Prime Minister said. This reflection of the Prime Minister was important in itself, especially given his earlier statements on how important the new authorities are to women’s participation in political processes. But the reactions to the Prime Minister’s post were interesting, which were very controversial. Putting aside the inappropriate comments under the post, we have to state that Pashinyan’s post was not a matter of praise but a wave of criticism. “Women are like oxygen, the higher you go, the less they are …”

 

  1. “There is no provision in the Istanbul Convention that contradicts the Constitution of Armenia”

 

2019 was marked by a loud scandal over the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, with manipulative comments on its content and attacks on human rights defenders dealing with violence on social networks. The Government of the Republic of Armenia, in an attempt to dispel public concerns, applied to the Venice Commission for an official opinion on the constitutional consequences of ratifying the Istanbul Convention. The Venice Commission on October 11th issued its opinion on the impact of the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, noting that there is no provision in the Istanbul Convention that contradicts the Constitution of Armenia.

 

“The Convention’s main obligation is to prevent and combat violence against women, domestic violence, which derives from the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia and other human rights treaties to which Armenia has acceded,” the Commission concludes.

 

  1. MeToo movement in Armenia

 

The #MeToo theme continued after a story by a Czech girl in Armenia, Eva, in which she described how she was repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped once in the past year in Armenia. Since that publication, journalist Lucy Kocharyan has launched a hashtag campaign on her Facebook page with the hashtag, posting numerous letters sent to her where women and girls, as well as men, report cases of violence against them. There were heated debates on social media that suggested that the letters were invented. In response to these opinions, CivilNet reporter Gevorg Tosunyan singled out real cases from the Datalex judicial system. All of them are criminal cases with verdicts that have proved lawful…

 

  1. Council of Europe Against Sexism

 

In the framework of the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) launched in January 2019, a campaign against sexism, harassment and violence in parliaments was organized with the hashtag #NotInMyParliament. Assembly Speaker Lillian Mori Paske, thanking the parliamentarians for participating in the action, expressed hope that the action against sexist stereotypes in parliaments would extend to other areas of work as well.

 

It is noteworthy that at present there are many women among the CE leaders. So is PACE President Lilian Mori Pasquier, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Maria Peachinovich-Buric, and CoE Deputy Secretary General Gabriela Bataini-Dragoni. The Commissioner for Human Rights is Dunja Mijatovi։. According to statistics published on the Assembly’s website, 34 percent of PACE members are women, while representation in national parliaments averages 25.92 percent.

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