April 29, 2013

CRRC-Armenia Conducts Training on How to Improve Survey Question Quality

On 17 and 18 April, CRRC-Armenia hosted a two-day training for a select group of attendees on Prediction of the quality of survey questions using the program SQP: Improvement of questions and correction for measurement errors. The training was conducted by Melanie Revilla and Diana Zavala of the Research and Expertise Centre for Survey Methodology (RECSM) within the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. They both work on the European Social Survey (ESS), with a focus on research methodology. The purpose of the training was to introduce two methods to evaluate the reliability and validity of survey questions and how to determine the quality of survey questions and the amount of measurement error.
RECSM has created a website to allow any researcher to use their Survey Quality Prediction (SQP) tool. The training provided the theoretical background of SQP, the practical application of SQP, and how to use the website to easily receive quality scores for survey questions. Those interested in the training materials may request them from CRRC to study on one’s own.
The attendees included participants from the Central Bank, the National Statistical Service and academic and non-governmental organizations. The attendees were engaged by the trainees, asking many questions and completing the practice exercises created for them. Certificates were given to the attendees at the completion of the training, and each attendee stated that the training met or exceeded their expectations.

April 8, 2013

Motherhood and Beauty Day: a Moment to Focus on the Wives of Migrants

Motherhood and Beauty Day, April 7th, is the last day of “Women’s month” in Armenia. For this day, CRRC wants to draw attention to the fates of wives that stay in Armenia while their husbands migrate for work. Migration is a large issue in Armenia, as every year tens of thousands of men temporarily leave Armenia for employment purposes. This months-long separation creates significant challenges for families remaining in Armenia and introduces new risks to the family, including STI and HIV risks.
CRRC-Armenia recentlycompleted a study on labor migration and the risks of HIV and other STIs in Armenia. This study was done in partnership with Mission East - Armenia and with financial support from The Global Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Technical assistance was provided by the National Center for AIDS Prevention and the Medical Scientific Center of dermatology and STI in Yerevan.
The aim of this study is to examine STI/HIV risks among labor migrants and their marital partners, to assess current HIV prevention activities among this population, and provide recommendations. STI/HIV is primarily entering Armenia through migrant workers from post-soviet states, especially Russia,and heterosexual intercourse is the main form of HIV transmission in Armenia (National Strategic Plan on HIV & AIDS, RA, 2012-2016). These two factors make the wives of migrants particularly vulnerable to infection.
Many Armenian wives have extreme faith in the fidelity of their husbands. This faith can cause a decrease in interest in STIs as many women don’t think they’ll become infected. As one woman from Lori said, “My husband told me that I am the only woman in his life and that is why I am not interested in information on STIs.” 

Migrant wives still predominantly believe their husbands will be faithful (68%), but are more likely to recognize the possibility of infidelity. One woman from Tavush said, “I understand that sometimes married men can be engaged in illicit sexual relations. … Due to their nature, men are engaged in such relationships when they work hard away from the family. This is necessary for men’s health.” With this recognition, comes more interest in reducing the health risks of STIs and HIV. Wives of migrants are more likely to have spoken to their husbands about STIs within the past year than the wives of non-migrants.

To combat some of the underlying issues that led to migration, especially irregular migration, the EU Mission, UNICEF, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and Territorial Administration Ministry have initiated a three-year one-million euro program on “Social Response to Labour Migration in Armenia”. The program focuses on mitigating the social consequences of labor migration in four marz in Armenia.
As more studies are conducted and information directed to this issue, the more Armenian women will become informed and better able to protect their health and the health of their husbands and kids. The CRRC-Armenia team is happy to be a part of this progress. In one interview, a woman from Lori said “I regularly talk about STIs, HIV/AIDS with my husband. Last time it happened was after a quantitative survey conducted by your organization.”

April 6, 2013

Women in Armenia: equality through challenges!

Women in Armenia: equality through challenges!
In continuing the series of blog posts on women, this post will look at the economic independence of Armenian women.
For many women, the only way they can develop a sense of independence is through economic independence. While some economic activity, especially those that fall within traditional gender roles like cleaning or teaching children, is accepted by many societies, there are still many large impediments to women seeking economic equality and economic independence.
In Armenia, almost half of both men and women agree that being employed is the best way for a woman to gain independence, but there are multiple societal beliefs that limit women’s employment opportunities. Sixty-five percent of Armenian men and almost half of women believe that when there are limited jobs, men should have more rights to work than women (see the chart below). In a country with high unemployment like Armenia, this view can seriously limit women’s employment opportunities. Fortunately, official statistics say that the share of unemployed women of the total unemployed population has decreased from its peak of 61% in 2007 to 53% in 2011 (National Statistical Service Republic of Armenia, Women and Men in Armenia, pp. 107-109).

As women develop skills that can lead to higher incomes, like learning English or office management, they have the extra worry about their relationship with husbands: according to the recent World Values Survey ( WVS, 2011), almost half of Armenian men believe that problems are likely to occur if the wife makes more money than the husband does. Almost a third of Armenian woman have the same view.

While women are approaching equality in (un)employment in Armenia, there is still a large discrepancy in average wages. In 2011, the mean pre-tax monthly income for men was 131,294 AMD (about 350 USD) and for women it was 84,992 AMD (227 USD) (National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia, Labour Market in the Republic of Armenia, 2007-2011, p 163).
Promoting employment as a mean for economic independence challenges another traditional social norm for women: raising children. Fifty-nine percent of men and almost half of women believe that children suffer if the mother is a hired employee. Such common societal views may impose a negative social cost on mothers who take a job, including negative views among the mother’s social group or an increase in marital disagreements. 

Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank’s President, mentioned having bank accounts as one of the indicators of women being more independent and integrated with the formal economy.  Based on this indicator, one could record essential progress in Armenia even during the last year. According to another survey – CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer for the previous two years, the share of women with bank accounts more than doubled from 2011 to 2012 and is now at 34% of the female population. The share of women reporting that they have any personal savings grew more modestly from 7.1% to 10.3%, which is in line with men’s reported savings.