At a glance
Overall, although domestic legislation in Armenia provides a framework for the equal rights of men and women, women remain disadvantaged, facing various forms of tacit discrimination, and are underrepresented in decision-making bodies. One of the main contemporary challenges in Armenia is to utilize the intellectual and professional potential of Armenia’s women to contribute to the economic development and better governance of the country, and at the same time to counter gender-based discrimination.
In response to these challenges, the OSCE Office in Yerevan’s gender portfolio is calibrated to promote gender equality and to support the fight against gender-based discrimination throughout society. The goal is to achieve gender-balanced participation in all spheres of Armenian society. The Office’s gender activities are focused on the economic and political empowerment of women, supporting the implementation of gender legislation and better coverage of gender issues.
Economic and political empowerment of women go hand in hand – different sides of the same coin. The Office in Yerevan gender portfolio has calibrated its activities in order to address priorities both in Yerevan and in key rural areas, particularly in the Syunik region. Activities in both areas have paid dividends.
The Syunik Women’s Resource Centres Network created with the Office's support continues to serve the local communities as a nexus for initiating and supporting community development. The goal of these centres is to open space for local women and provide resources to help them start businesses. Besides offering trainings and consultations, the centres conduct different surveys and assessments, arrange contacts with various agencies and provide a variety of low cost services to local women. Moreover, the success of these centres has triggered changes that go beyond the economic sphere. Women involved in the centres are empowered, more confident and as a result, more active in their respective communities.
In terms of political empowerment, the Office works closely with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and supports surveys and capacity building initiatives for women politicians. Particularly, the Study on Participation of Women in 2007 Parliamentary Elections became the basis for conducting a new study during 2012 Parliamentary Elections, for which comparative analysis will be conducted. In light of elections taking place in 2012 and 2013, more emphasis will be placed on increasing women’s political participation and empowerment in the forthcoming elections
The Office assists Armenian authorities and civil society in improving gender legislation by providing support for public discourse and co-ordination among stakeholders on issues related to gender-based discrimination. Specifically, the Office supports Armenia’s Action Plans for Gender Empowerment and co-chairs the extended Gender Theme Group. Additionally, the Office became a member of the State Inter-agency Committee to Combat Gender-Based Violence in 2010, and in 2011 became a participant in the Working Group on Revising Draft Law on Domestic Violence.
As the media is an important actor in forming public opinion about gender, the Office works with domestic outlets in order to promote gender equality and women role models. The aim is to offer an alternative perspective and to counter stereotypes regarding the role of women in society. Since 2008, the OSCE has been a primary sponsor of the Na/Ne Annual Media Awards, which is given for the best coverage of gender issues. The Awards are an annual event, and every year the number and quality of submitted materials has improved.