Experts speak out about the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the situation of women in Azerbaijan

During the 77th session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), international experts were asked to assess the situation in Azerbaijan and make their recommendations to the country’s authorities.

In their joint statement, the human rights groups expressed concern about the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women, including increased number of cases of discrimination, femicides, domestic violence and economic inequality.

The Covid-19 pandemic not only has exacerbated problems, such as poverty and economic dependency of women in Azerbaijan, but also lead to increased gender-based violence. Having lost their jobs, many women were locked up with their aggressors due to the restrictive measures, which had been introduced. However, most cases of domestic violence remain undocumented and uninvestigated due to widespread support for “traditional values” and victimization of women, as well as public acceptance of extreme forms of violence against women such as honor killings.

The state does not provide sufficient assistance to victims and does not implement effective measures to prevent domestic violence. For more than 5 million women in Azerbaijan, there are only three shelters with a capacity for a total of 100 people.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a far greater impact on women’s lives through exacerbation of previously existing problems. In particular, women were burdened with additional domestic responsibilities, such as extra caring for children and the elderly. The hardest hit were women from vulnerable groups who face multiple forms of discrimination: women from ethnic minorities, Roma and LBTI women. Since the beginning of 2020, at least three transgender women, who were involved in prostitution, have been attacked, which resulted in serious damage to their health or even death.

While taking necessary action to overcome this ongoing crisis, Azerbaijan authorities should take a gender-sensitive approach based on the priority of respect for human rights.