STATUS OF WOMEN IN ARMENIA STILL LOW
Yerevan, December 11. ArmInfo. Elimination of gender discrimination
and empowering women will have a profound and positive impact on the
survival and well-being of children, according to a new UNICEF report.
The State of the World’s Children report released today, on occasion
of UNICEF’s 60th anniversary, argues that gender equality produces
the double dividend of benefiting both women and children and argues
that gender equality is pivotal to the health and development of
communities, families and nations.
"When women are educated, empowered and involved in the decisions that
shape their lives, their children are better educated, their health
and nutrition improves, family income rises, civil society is more
likely to flourish, " UNICEF Representative, Sheldon Yett said in
his remarks at the launch of the State of the World’s Children 2007
organized as part of a campaign against gender violence that kicked
off in Armenia on 25 November.
Although Armenia has shown good progress in ensuring equal rights and
opportunities for women, there are still some areas where concerted
efforts are required to eliminate discrimination and disparity.
In particular, women continue to be under-represented in Armenia’s
political life and in senior positions in central and local
government. Out of 131 members of the Armenian Parliament, only seven
are women. At the cabinet level, only one minister out of seventeen
is a woman, and only three deputy ministers are women out of a total
of fifty six. Involving women in the early stages of policy formation
helps ensure the programmes are designed with the needs of women and
children in mind.
In most branches of Armenia’s economy, women are often paid lower wages
than their male colleagues, while the unemployment rate among women is
higher than among men. Income in the hands of women can reap benefits
for children, and gender gaps in earnings can decrease or limit the
resources available to meet children’s rights, such as health care,
adequate nutrition and education.
In some ethnic minority communities, up to 20% of girls do not complete
basic education. "Missing out on basic school education deprives a
girl of the opportunity to develop to her full potential," Sheldon
Yett stressed. "Children born to mothers who have no or insufficient
education are less likely to survive and develop to their full
potential than those born to educated mothers."
In recent years violence against women has also become a subject of
great concern in the country "Unfortunately many cases of violence
against women, particularly, domestic violence go unreported and there
is no reliable data on how many women have been victimized," UNICEF
Representative said, adding that "the present campaign against gender
violence is not only called to surface various forms of discrimination
that women in Armenia are facing, but also urges immediate actions
to improve the status of women in various spheres of life."
The achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 3 – promoting
gender equality and empowering women – will also contribute to
the achieving all other goals, from reducing poverty and hunger
to saving children’s lives, improving maternal health, ensuring
quality secondary education, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases,
and ensuring environmental sustainability.
"Women’s equal rights and influence in the key decisions that shape
their lives must be enhanced in three distinct arenas: the household,
the workplace and the political sphere. A change for the better in
any one of these realms influences women’s equality in the others,
and has a profound and positive impact on children’s well-being and
development," UNICEF Representative said.