January 23, 2015
One of UNPO’s first activities in the New Year 2015 was to submit an Alternative Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on the occasion of its 60th Session, documenting the compliance/violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women by the Azerbaijani Government. In particular, the report discusses the systematic ethnic and religious discrimination endured by Lezghin and Talysh women, and concludes that the Azerbaijani Government is paying too little attention to the violations of women rights in the context of minorities. The economic, social and political empowerment and legal protection of women who are members of minority groups should be given a high priority by the Government and urgent, sustainable and democratic action is required to improve the situation.
The Alternative Report analyses and evaluates compliance with and implementation of the provisions of the Convention by the Azerbaijani Government, particularly with regard to the Lezghin and Talysh communities. Women of ethnic minority groups are exposed to higher levels of discrimination, vulnerability, oppression and social exclusion and, hence, require the enforcement of gender-specific and coherent laws offering recognition of their status and protection of their culture, traditions and religion.
Despite the fact that Azerbaijan’s state report to the Committee presents significant efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, there are no specific measures focusing on women belonging to ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. A number of urgent measures that should be undertaken by the Azerbaijani Government in compliance with their obligations under CEDAW are therefore requested in UNPO’s Alternative Report.
The report discusses sequentially the articles of the Convention considered to have been violated by the Azerbaijani Government with recommendations on how to rectify and/or prevent further breeches. Some recommendations are listed below:
Article 2: Legislations to Prevent Discrimination against Women
- Recognize and define ‘national minorities’ and their minority rights within national legislation;
- Establish national institutions which represent and safeguard the needs of minority groups in the country, including women. Such institutions should protect the language, culture, history and traditions of minority groups in Azerbaijan;
- Sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention (Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence).
Article 3: Guarantee of Basic Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- Suspend the censorship on religious literature;
- Abolish the practice of discriminating women based on their appearance.
Article 10: Education
- Sign and ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;
- Provide appropriate financial resources to promote minority education, including the provision of modern educational material;
- Abolish the ban of wearing hijabs for schoolgirls and female teachers at public schools.
Article 16 Marriage and Children
- Update the Gender Equality Law and provide a definition of ‘unequal marriage ages’.