October 24, 2011

Gender Parity and Economic Inclusion of Women in the South Caucasus

Prepared by CRRC-Armenia fellow Urban Jaska

Recently the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development issued a report on Measuring gender parity in 141 economies, entitled Women, Business and the Law: Removing barriers to economic inclusion. As the results show, there have been no dramatic changes in gender parity in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia since 2009. However, the comparison among the countries reveals bigger differences.

Here are some of them. Particularly, female labor force participation in Armenia remains at 69%, higher than in Azerbaijan (65%) and Georgia (59%). Female labor force participation hasn't changed in any of the countries in comparison with 2009.

Constitutional rights of women are similar in all countries but while in Armenia and Azerbaijan, there is a non-discrimination clause covering gender or sex in the constitution, Georgia knows no such clause.

There are differences also among the three South Caucasus countries regarding working hours and industry restrictions. In Armenia women can work in the same industries as men and with same night hours, moreover, pregnant women and nursing mothers can work the same number of hours as men and other women. In Azerbaijan all this is not possible, while in Georgia pregnant women and nursing mothers cannot work the same number of hours as men and other women.

Parental benefits also differ among the countries. Particularly, in Azerbaijan there is a mandatory minimum length of 14 days of unpaid maternity/paternity leave, while in Armenia and Georgia such policies have not been implemented yet. Laws in Armenia nad Azerbaijan oblige the employer to give the employee the same job when she/he returns from maternity/paternity/parental leave, while Georgian women don't benefit from such legal protection. Laws penalize or prevent the dismissal of pregnant women in Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Georgia being a negative exception.

While Azerbaijani legislation includes laws mandating nondiscrimination in hiring practices on the basis of gender, in Armenia and Georgia no such laws exist. Of the three countries, only Armenia has laws protecting employees from sexual harassment in the workplace and only Armenia and Georgia have laws establishing the public provision of childcare, or state subsidizing childcare for children under the age of primary education. In Armenia and Azerbaijan, but not in Georgia employees with minor children have additional legal rights to a flexible or a part-time work schedule.

There are other interested data to reveal in the full report, which can be found here.

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