National and International Legislation – Through the Eyes of Youth: UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at the launch event on women’s rights in Azerbaijan

Today, Azerbaijani men and women have nearly equal chances of living in urban or rural areas.

Dear Hijran khanum,

Dear Melahet khanum,

UN Colleagues,

Distinguished guests,

I am pleased to be here at the launch of this very important project implemented by the Women’s Public Union in partnership with the

State Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Affairs,

Ministry of Youth and Sports,

Ministry of Education,

the National Coordination Council for SDGs

and the United Nations office in Azerbaijan.

The project is launched at a very important moment of our time when the world will take stock of progress on gender equality and women empowerment as we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 5th year of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda.

The project will raise awareness among young people in over 3000 schools across the country through essay contest about Azerbaijan’s international commitments related to gender equality, progress and challenges it faces about empowering women.

We are glad to see that the competition will be launched on 7th December marking the International Human Rights day.

This is important because gender equality is about human rights.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “universal human rights begin in the very small places, close to home, so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps in the world. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”

The Beijing agenda requires us to bring human rights to those small places, including the rural communities to empower women and girls for ensuring a prosperous society for all.

As you know, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted at the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.

The document highlighted 12 key areas for urgent action by all member states including Azerbaijan to ensure greater equality and opportunities for all women, men, girls and boys.

As mentioned, Azerbaijan was one of the first countries submitting the Comprehensive National Review Report on the Beijing platform.

The report has highlighted the significant areas of progress over the past decade facilitated by a well-developed legislative foundation protecting women’s rights in the public arena and family life.

Compared to the early 20th century, today, Azerbaijani men and women have longer life expectancy, are literate, marry at an older age, have less children, and have nearly equal chances of living in urban or rural areas.

In addition, a significant proportion of Azerbaijani women is earning income provided by outside of household economic activity.

I am pleased to inform you that the UN family has been one of the key strategic partners of the Government concerning fulfillment of its obligations on gender equality and non-discrimination.

So far, we have managed to produce evidence and data on such issues as violence against women, sex-selective abortions, child marriages, public perceptions of the problems concerning the dynamics of gender relations, and others.

We have been a part of successful advocacy for endorsement of the legislation on gender equality, domestic violence, and equalisation of minimum marriage age for men and women.

We continue our advocacy efforts for creation of an enabling policy framework on gender equality and gender-based violence.

Today’s press conference coincides with the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign, that UN annually marks with the Government of Azerbaijan from the 25th of November to the 10th of December.

We have also closely worked with the Government on SDG localisation in the country, particularly SDGs 5.

Despite this impressive progress, this egalitarian legal attitude is regrettably not adequately reflected in the distribution of political, social, economic and sometimes even personal powers between the sexes.

The statistics show that while the women in Azerbaijan constitute the majority of those employed in the sectors of education, health and social protection, very few of them hold senior managerial positions.

This will, of course, deprive them of decision making over matters that affect directly their lives.

Women are still confined to “pink ghettos” of teaching, healthcare and secretarial work to give them flexibility to take care of household chores.

The access, women have, to resources is significantly restricted compared to that of men.

Therefore, we need to invest more in practical measures to create favourable conditions for gender equality and non-discrimination.

For instance, we need to create a system that envisions a prompt and thorough investigation of all reports of violence and discrimination against women and girls, with a focus on protecting victims and witnesses and with no impunity for perpetrators of violence.

We should disseminate information on the benefits of an equal society free from discrimination to ensure the practical realisation of the available legal and policy frameworks in the country.


Dear Melahet khanum,

Let me take this opportunity and thank you for this critical initiative to target young people as younger generations have more equitable views about gender roles.

And the information and views coming from them can be a valuable source of information for policymakers, researchers and activists.

On behalf of the UN Country Team in Azerbaijan, I would like to thank you all for your contributions and wish you a successful implementation of this project.

Diqqetiniz uchun teshekkur edirem (diqqətiniz üçün təşəkkür edirəm)!

Speech by
Ghulam M. Isaczai
UN Resident Coordinator
UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Labor Organization
International Organization for Migration
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Children’s Fund
World Health Organization