Dispatch

Uniting in Azerbaijan to combat gender-based violence

15 January 2015
Participants in a roundtable discussion on gender-based violence and its impact on children, held in Sumqait, Azerbaijan. Photo: UNFPA

SUMQAIT/BAKU, Azerbaijan – Eliminating gender-based violence was the focus of a series of events held in Azerbaijan in late November and early December, including a first-of-its-kind discussion specifically looking at the impacts of such violence on children.

UNFPA’s Azerbaijan Country Office is already supporting the launch of a pilot Support Centre for women survivors of domestic violence and their children, with the aim of eventually creating a network of such facilities. Along with the UN Resident Coordinator’s office in Azerbaijan, the UNFPA County Office also brought together local government officials, civil-society activists, and members of the media for a roundtable discussion on this topic in the city of Sumqait.

Evidence-based data shows that children who have been exposed to different forms of domestic violence are more likely than their peers to experience a series of health-related consequences, including long-term behavioural, social, emotional, cognitive, and attitudinal problems. The Sumqait roundtable was organised to bring more attention to this issue, which is too often inadequately addressed by programmes designed to provide support for survivors of violence.

As in many countries, research on gender-based violence in Azerbaijan shows that solving the problem requires both changing attitudes about women’s rights in general and gender-based violence in particular, and fully implementing laws that have been passed to fight it.

‘Gender-based violence is of concern worldwide. To solve this problem it is equally important that the society itself, as well as civil society, are actively involved in supporting the legal and policy initiatives aimed at combating gender-based violence,’ said Hijran Huseynova, the head of Azerbaijan’s State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Affairs. ‘Effective and sustainable results are possible only with joint efforts to combat violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.’

Huseynova was one of a number of high-level participants in a national conference on gender-based violence organised in Baku by UNFPA, UNDP, UNHCR, the Azerbaijani government, Counterpart International, and members of civil society. The event, held under the slogan ‘Empowerment for Women - Progress for Society’, marked the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign for 2014. This global campaign is held annually from 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to 10 December, International Human Rights Day.

In Azerbaijan, other activities held as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign included a mock reporting session on the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by the Azerbaijan Republic in 1995, and the launch of a project on strengthening national human-rights protection systems for advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights.