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Le travail de la LDIF sur l'Azerbaïdan à l'honneur en Europe

THE EVOLUTION OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN THE EUROPEAN NEIGHBOURHOOD: THE CASE OF AZERBAIJAN
Anne-Marie Lizin, Patricia Lalonde, Reine Marcelis

A delegation of the League of International Women’s Rights has
recently conducted a fact-finding mission in Azerbaijan in order to
meet with experts, NGOs and state institutions
working on women’s rights.
Azerbaijan, the only Muslim country of the Eastern neighbourhood, is a unique country, in that it has introduced many positive initiatives for women’s rights and gender equality in the span of only a few years.

These initiatives include:
• Legal reforms in order to maintain the gender equality as well as initiatives in order to ensure the active participation of women in socio-economic and
political life;
• Measures to maintain women’s employment and financial independence;
• The fight against early marriages through the implementation of the necessary legal changes and the active involvement of the state institutions, NGOs and religious figures;
• The fight against domestic violence through the implementation of the necessary legal changes, shelters and awareness raising campaigns in society;
• The fight to change the mentalities through projects, campaigns and trainings;
• The active role of the SCFWC (the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs) and its chairwoman at national and international level;

• The support of the CSSN (the Council on State Support to NGOs) to women’s NGOs
and initiatives;
• Regional actions of SCFWC in order to reach out areas far from the capital;
• The collaboration with European and international organisations;
• The appointment of women deputygovernors and training future women leaders in the administration of the State as a result of the administrative reform.

We believe that the progress in Azerbaijan in terms of women’s rights is truly impressive. Further progress is of course needed in a number of areas but the commitment of the country as well as the women themselves, who are highly active in society certainly offer positive prospects for the future.

We have a number of recommendations to Azerbaijan and the European Union:
• Further projects and campaigns should be initiated in Azerbaijan in order
to change the mentalities regarding women’s rights and gender equality, hereby focusing especially on rural areas;
• The legal reforms should be supported by successful and efficient implementation;
• Necessary trainings should be organised for local police forces so that they can be more actively involved in efforts to fights against forced marriages and domestic violence;
• The training and involvement of religious leaders and the leaders of ethnic
communities should be maintained in order to tackle problems at the local level;

• The members of the newly elected European Parliament and in particular
the newly-elected women MEPs should consider these efforts as emblematic,
for the relations between Europe and its neighbourhood;
• The European Union should understand that progress and achievements in terms
of women’s rights are equally important for secularism, democracy and the fight
against the religious extremism in the European neighbourhood;
• The remarkable efforts of Azerbaijan, the only Muslim country in the Eastern
neighbourhood, should be recognised and encouraged by the EU;
• The progress on women’s rights should be included among the strategic objectives of the European neighbourhood policy; Anne-Marie Lizin, International Coordinator of the League of International Women’s Rights, Honorary President of the Belgian Senate, former member of the Belgian Government and member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1988 (www.lizin.org) (Belgium) Patricia Lalonde, French expert, President of MEWA, association that supports women in the Arab countries (France) Reine Marcelis, Belgian expert, President of Synergie-Wallonie for the equality between men and women (Belgium)

The League of the International Women’s Rights, an NGO created by Simone de Beauvoir in France, aims to promote the women’s rights based on the international instruments and their implementation in domestic law.

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