During the 65th pre-session of the United Nations’ Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN CESCR) its members formulated questions to the Azerbaijani authorities concerning respect for women’s rights in education and employment.
UN CESCR experts asked for information on the measures aimed at abolishing restrictions on employment for women. Hundreds of professional occupations, including better-paid and well-demanded jobs, remain inaccessible to women under the pretext of protecting their reproductive function, while these restrictions do not take into account women’s age, their ability and/or desire to have children. The lack of similar protective measures for men leads to the creation of unequal conditions in the labor sphere for men and women, while also to creation of barriers not only for professional fulfillment of women, but also for their economic independence. Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC) “Memorial” has raised the issue of discrimination related to the existence of the lists of professional occupations prohibited for women in its campaign #AllJobs4allwomen and has called for the abolition of all gender-based restrictions on employment.
UN CESCR asked the Azerbaijani authorities to report on measures to ensure permanent, stable and official employment for women, to solve the problem of gender segregation and to promote representation of women in spheres, which were previously atypical employment areas for the latter. Experts are eager to learn about steps aimed at improving girls’ and young women’s access to vocational education and training in secondary specialized and higher educational institutions.
ADC “Memorial” has submitted alternative information to the Committee and noted the negative impact of deeply rooted gender stereotypes, which lead, inter alia, to violation of women’s rights in employment. Despite the almost equal number of economically active residents of Azerbaijan of both sexes, higher unemployment exists among women (approximately 20% of total unemployment, according to independent experts), and only one third of women in Azerbaijan have official status of unemployed. Azerbaijani women are still predominantly employed in low-paid jobs, while the problem of gender-related pay gap remains relevant.
UN CESCR has requested information on whether the legislation of Azerbaijan would be expanded with additional features that would protect against discrimination, and asked for information on measures taken to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).