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Experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Commend Armenia on Continuing to Uphold International Obligations Despite the Conflict, Raise Questions on Violence against Women and Family Planning Services

Meeting Summaries

 

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today concluded its consideration of the seventh periodic report of Armenia, with Committee Experts commending the State on continuing to uphold its international obligations despite the impact of the conflict, and asking about violence against women and family planning services.

Lia Nadaraia, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Armenia, acknowledged Armenia’s complex political, economic, and security constraints due to the impact of the pandemic, and the devastating impact of the conflict. She commended the country for the progress made, including for reform around promoting and protecting human rights, and for the State continuing to uphold its international obligations.

A Committee Expert congratulated Armenia on the progress made, including on the adoption of the relevant law against family violence and the signing of the Istanbul Convention. However, gender stereotyping in Armenia continued to be the main obstacle to the equality of women and men, and a cause for gender-based violence. What legislative measures would the State take against gender stereotyping and hate speech? When would hate speech, specifically on gender; domestic violence, including stalking; and marital rape and other sexual violence crimes be criminalised in the Penal Code?

One Committee Expert asked what measures were being taken to ensure women’s access to medical services, specifically family planning services? Did the cases in which abortion was legal include cases of rape, or severe foetal abnormalities? Would the State party take measures to ensure the provision of necessary specialists in all regions of the country?

The delegation said relevant provisions to combat domestic violence against women were included in the Criminal Code. Concerning sexual stereotypes, Armenia had initiated a number of awareness raising events, including posters and short television advertisements with famous personalities, to break down traditional family stereotypes and show the typical family as one that was full of love. Armenia was committed to undertaking the necessary steps to combat gender-based violence. Public awareness campaigns were also conducted to prevent violence against women.

Medical assistance for women of reproductive age during pregnancy and birth was provided for free, regardless of their social status or where they lived. The Government of Armenia had confirmed a programme for supporting reproductive health, and had allocated funds to implement this. This included providing services to high-risk groups and reproductive technology tests for specific population groups. Abortions were conducted at the request of women for medical reasons. There were also social indications such as incest and rape, for which women could conduct abortions.

Introducing the report, Tatevik Stepanyan, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Armenia and Head of Delegation, said the preparation of the seventh periodic report of Armenia coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the pre-planned large-scale military offensive unleashed by Azerbaijan in September 2020 against the Nagorno Karabakh people. The last three years had been difficult for the country, due to the pandemic and the consequences of the war unleased by Azerbaijan. Despite the challenges faced, tremendous work had been done which aimed at solving sectoral problems. Due to the amendments to the Electoral Code, the minimum quota threshold in the National Assembly elections was set at 30 per cent for female candidates.

In concluding remarks, Ms. Stepanyan said Armenia would continue to move forward and work towards eliminating all forms of discrimination against women. Armenia was looking forward to continuing collaboration with the Committee for a better and more peaceful future.

Ana Pelaez Narvaez, Committee Vice Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue, saying it allowed the Committee to better understand the situation of women and girls in Armenia. The Committee congratulated Armenia on its progress, encouraging the State to adopt all recommendations of the Committee.

The delegation of Armenia consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure; the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs; the Ministry of Defence; the Commission on Television and Radio; the Statistics Committee; the Health and Labour Inspectorate; the Armenian Police; the Migration Service; the Education Inspectorate; and the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s eighty-third session is being held from 10 to 28 October. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here . The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. this afternoon to conclude its dialogue on the combined fifth to ninth periodic reports of Saint Kitts and Nevis (CEDAW/C/KNA/5-9)

Report

The Committee has before it the seventh periodic report of Armenia (CEDAW/C/ARM/7).

Presentation of Report

TATEVIK STEPANYAN, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Armenia and Head of Delegation, said the preparation of the seventh periodic report of Armenia coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the pre-planned large-scale military offensive unleashed by Azerbaijan in September 2020 against the Nagorno Karabakh people. As a result of the Azerbaijani hostilities, over 91,000 persons living in Nagorno Karabakh were forcibly displaced, 88 per cent of whom were women and children. Azerbaijan had captured, tortured, and killed a number of Armenian service personnel, among them several women, who were exposed to brutalities, including sexual and gender-based violence.

The last three years had been difficult for Armenia, due to the pandemic and the consequences of the war unleased by Azerbaijan. Despite the challenges faced, tremendous work had been done which aimed at solving sectoral problems. To ensure the establishment of de facto equality between men and women, as stipulated in the Convention, the Government decision on the 2019–2023 strategy and plan of measures for the implementation of the gender policy was adopted in September 2019. This aimed to create favourable conditions for equal opportunities for women and men in all spheres of public life, including government, the socio-economic sphere, education and science, and healthcare.

Medical care provided for women of reproductive age during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum was free in Armenia, regardless of their social status and residence. Gynaecological hospital care, including abortion, was also free for the socially insecure and vulnerable women and available throughout the country.

Due to the amendments to the Electoral Code, the minimum quota threshold in the National Assembly elections was set at 30 per cent for female candidates. Great progress had also been achieved in the field of information and communication technology, where the participation of girls had reached 37 per cent, ranking Armenia fourth in the world.

Important progress had been made in the fight against domestic violence and violence against women. The law on the prevention of domestic violence was adopted; it formed the necessary measures for the prevention of domestic violence, and safety and protection of victims of family violence, ensuring legal structures for their rights. Support centres for persons subjected to domestic violence were operating in all regions in Armenia, where victims could receive socio-psychological, legal, and economic support, with each centre having its own hotline telephone number. Every year, up to 1,500 persons subjected to family violence applied to support centres and received the necessary assistance.

ARPINE SARGSYAN, Deputy Minister of Justice of Armenia and Deputy Head of Delegation, said to effectively eliminate discrimination against women and to ensure a comprehensive approach in this regard, Armenia had drafted the law on "Ensuring Equality Before the Law,” which aimed to ensure equal opportunities with no discrimination. The draft law was in the finalisation process and would hopefully be approved within the next year. The new Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, and Penitentiary Code had been in force in Armenia since 1 July, the basis of which, among other things, included the equality of women and men, the effective fight against domestic and sexual violence, as well as the principle of ensuring an appropriate and proportionate response to criminal acts in practice.

Among others, including provisions against discrimination and hate speech, the new Criminal Code stipulated liability for forced marriage, divorce, and being forced to have a child. In relation to domestic violence, the new legislation provided comprehensive regulations, including defining a close relative. In this context, the Code provided stricter sanctions in specific articles when a close relative committed a crime, and stricter sanctions for certain crimes were also provided when committed towards a person in a vulnerable situation due to marital status or disability. In 2021 the annual training programmes for judges, candidate judges, prosecutors, and investigators contained courses concerning the prevention and the fight against violence against women and domestic violence in Armenia.

To ensure gender representation in election commissions, the Electoral Code of Armenia stipulated quotas for representatives of each gender in the Central Election Commission and the Territorial Electoral Commission. For the first time in 2021, 39 persons were appointed to the position of judge, 19 of whom, about half, were female. Armenia’s action plan on human rights envisaged several events relating to combatting domestic violence against women in the upcoming three years.

KRISTINNE GRIGORYAN, Human Rights Defender of Armenia, said the Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia launched this September had disproportionality affected thousands of displaced Armenian women and girls. The war crimes committed by Azerbaijani military personnel were carried out with particular cruelty towards the female personnel, targeting their gender and ethnicity, with these videos being disseminated on social media with particular gender hatred. Armenia lacked clear and sound anti-discrimination legislation, so it was recommended to adopt such legislation and establish effective institutional mechanisms such as the Equality Body. The State’s response to cases of domestic and gender-based violence remained a matter of concern, including a lack of explicit corpus delicti on domestic violence. Also, Armenia had signed but not ratified the Istanbul Convention.

The Human Rights Defender recommended that Armenia amend the criminal legislation, establishing an explicit corpus delicti for all acts of gender-based violence, including stalking, and to enhance the procedural guarantees for protection of victims. Access to State-funded shelters and services should also be provided throughout the country for women with disabilities. The disproportionate targeting and persecution of human rights defenders working on women’s issues remained worrisome. Furthermore, despite welcomed amendments to the Law on Political Parties and the Electoral Code, women remained underrepresented in decision-making positions. It was recommended that Armenia take concrete measures to promote women’s political and economic participation; introduce gender sensitive budgeting practices; continue improving gender quotas with special focus on law enforcement; introduce the labour legislation addressing sexual harassment in the workplace; and provide targeted State support, including mental health care, to displaced women and girls.

Questions by Committee Experts

LIA NADARAIA, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Armenia, recognised the Government’s efforts in the report. The Committee acknowledged Armenia’s complex political, economic, and security constraints due to the impact of the pandemic, and the devastating impact of the conflict. Ms. Nadaraia commended the country for the progress made, including for reform around promoting and protecting human rights, and for the State continuing to uphold its international obligations. Armenia had signed significant treaties, including to abolish the death penalty. When would the law on gender equality finally be adopted?

Ms. Nadaraia commended Armenia for promoting the women, peace and security agenda. How did Armenia plan to ensure women’s leadership in peace negotiations? Were gender sensitive indicators applied in the Government’s strategy of reforms? If yes, what were these indicators and how would they be applied? The Armenian Human Rights Institution had been granted A status since 2006, which was renewed in 2021. Could the delegation provide specific measures that the Government had undertaken to provide gender-sensitive human rights education within institutions? Could statistical data on judges, law enforcement, and prosecutors be provided? Did the Fact-finding Mission envisage a review of human rights violations from a gender perspective?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that the draft equality law had been developed by the Ministry of Justice and passed long standing consultations from all relevant stakeholders, including journalists and civil society, and was submitted to the Government in December 2019. Currently, the law was in the finalisation process, with final discussions to be conducted with relevant stakeholders to ensure the law reflected the views of all actors. The new Criminal Code provided a more precise definition of discrimination and had a non-exhaustive list of the basis of discrimination. In the 2020 programme on the annual training programme of investigators, courses were included to train investigators in gender-based violence. In 2021, training was carried out for judges, including on topics such as racism, discrimination, and gender-based violence.

The recent parliamentary elections resulted in 34 per cent of women’s representation in Parliament. Free, fair, and transparent elections were now a functioning tool in Armenia. In 2022, a woman governor and a woman prosecutor were elected in Armenia for the first time, which was considered great progress. Steps were being taken to involve women in the law enforcement system as well, with separate places allocated for female patrols. In July, the 2022 to 2026 strategy on judicial and legal reforms was adopted. Armenia was planning to work with the Ombudsman’s office to establish the Fact-Finding Mission therein, with the hope to establish it at the end of 2023. Civil society would be closely consulted on this issue. The current strategy for judicial legal reforms had already been discussed as a subject for gender assessment.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked to what extent Armenia expected to strengthen Parliament in its vision of equality? Armenia had voiced interest in participatory governance; what policy would be developed to ensure that non-governmental organizations throughout the territory could participate most effectively in legislative work and the enforcement of the law? What was the status of human rights defenders who were often victims of discrimination and hate speech? What was being done in terms of their protection? Was there coordination between State services at a regional level? How did the Sustainable Development Goals fit within this context? How could equality be a priority in all plans? The Expert concluded by congratulating Armenia for its progress in the field of technological innovation.

A Committee Expert congratulated Armenia for measures which would increase the representation of women in the political domain, including the amendment to the Electoral Code, and the amendment to the law on political parties. Were there plans for using temporary special measures in Armenia for groups such as rural women?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said taking into account recommendations received from all United Nations bodies, Armenia had designed a national action plan based on the principles of inclusive participation. In 2022, Armenia adopted a national action plan on women, peace and security, which had been approved by the Government. United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 called on all States to put an end to impunity and to prosecute all crimes, including those relating to violence against women and girls. The Armenian Human Rights Institution was fully funded by the State and represented in four out of eleven regions, with the fifth territorial office to be established next year. Each fiscal year, the budget for the Institution was increased, highlighting the State’s commitment to the Institution, and insuring its independence.

Armenia was currently in the phase of adopting an education strategy until 2030. It was hoped that the strategy would be fully adopted by November this year. One of the strategy’s directions included building better connections between the labour market and education institutions, and increasing the employability of graduates. Since 2017, dual education programmes had been implemented in the field of professional education. Half of the students included in vocational education were women, and there were clear policies to engage more female students in the field. More than half of higher education students were female.

Follow-up Questions and Responses

A Committee Expert said that women’s groups had been under attack since 2013, and despite positive developments, hate speech from extremist groups continued to go unpunished. What steps had Armenia taken to protect human rights defenders from hate speech?

In response, the delegation said that one of the steps taken to eliminate hate speech against human rights defenders was to establish precise regulations within the Criminal Code.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert congratulated Armenia on the progress made, including on the adoption of the relevant law against family violence and the signing of the Istanbul Convention. However, gender stereotyping in Armenia continued to be the main obstacle to the equality of women and men, and a cause for gender-based violence. What legislative measures would the State take against gender stereotyping and hate speech? When would hate speech, specifically on gender; domestic violence, including stalking; and marital rape and other sexual violence crimes be criminalised in the Penal Code? How many shelters had been established and were they financed by the State; how many were located outside the capital?

Another Committee Expert asked why perpetrators of trafficking were allowed to be free while awaiting trial, representing a danger to witnesses? What was the role of the coordinating council? Who provided its financial resources? Why did interrogations at the border take so long? This had a negative effect on victims and access to justice. How was protection provided to victims, especially those from vulnerable communities? How many shelters were available for victims of trafficking? Armenia was a country of origin for women and girls and there were increasing cases of forced labour in domestic work, which may lead to cases of trafficking. What measures were envisaged to help women who were prostitutes to quit prostitution and reintegrate into society?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said relevant provisions to combat domestic violence against women were included in the Criminal Code. Concerning sexual stereotypes, Armenia had initiated a number of awareness raising events, including posters and short television advertisements with famous personalities, to break down traditional family stereotypes and show the typical family as one that was full of love. Armenia was committed to undertaking the necessary steps to combat gender-based violence. Step by step, domestic legislation was being harmonised with the Convention. Public awareness campaigns were also conducted to prevent violence against women. In 2021, a public campaign was undertaken called “Violence in Silence”. Armenia was committed to ratifying the Istanbul Convention and viewed this as a key step in the fight against gender-based violence.

Support centres for persons who had been subjected to domestic violence were operating in all areas of Armenia. Every year, between 130 and 150 women and children applied to these shelters and received assistance. The financial resources provided from the Government’s budget for domestic violence had been doubled. Financial support was provided to victims of domestic violence in the form of a lump sum payment, as well as government-funded treatment. Preventative measures, which begun at the school level, were vital. Amendments to the Criminal Code had been made involving consent, which established criminal liability for committing acts of a sexual nature without the reasonable belief of the victim’s consent.

A shelter for victims of trafficking had been financed by the State. In recent years, Armenia had gone deep into regions and engaged different actors in the fight against trafficking. The new Criminal Code outlined time limits for every possible procedural action. In a case sent to court, one person was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the exploitation of persons. Twenty-five persons had been identified as victims of sexual exploitation, and one case of labour exploitation was sent to court.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked if noncompliance was currently criminalised in Armenia’s Penal Code?

Another Committee Expert asked about protection for victims and witnesses of trafficking, and how the Government was discouraging prostitution?

What was the proportion of trained professionals assigned to work with trafficking cases?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said there was an administrative offence in the Criminal Code concerning prostitution. Major reforms were being undertaken in the judicial sphere. The State aimed to abolish the issue of prostitution as an administrative offence. There were crucial amendments in the Criminal Code, especially concerning hate speech. Other gaps would be filled in line with Armenia’s international obligations. From 2021, 49 active social service providers were established throughout the country, which were the primary detective bodies.

Questions by Committee Experts

 

A Committee Expert said the representation of women only increased in political bodies where there was a quota. What steps was the State taking to increase women in decision-making bodies in communities? Only 10.4 per cent of Armenian ambassadors were women, which was low. What were the programmes which encouraged women to enter the foreign service or encouraged women to apply for positions of international bureaucracy?

Another Committee Expert asked about birth registration for new-born babies born to internally displaced women. How did the mothers obtain birth registration for their children? What were the measures envisaged by the State party to prevent statelessness?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said that the Electoral Code of Armenia defined a gender quota, and female community leaders had been elected in three communities. Around 91,000 persons had been displaced as a result of the conflict, a large proportion of whom were women and children. A needs assessment had been conducted with priority given to women. Currently, Armenia did not have any particularities concerning the citizenship of displaced persons; there were equal regulations in this regard. Armenia was working on training staff to take into account sensitive issues while dealing with displaced persons.

There was an active rotation in Armenia’s system regarding diplomacy and the figures were changing constantly. Announcements to diplomatic schools were made publicly, and potential students undertook exams and were selected on a merit basis, based on their professional capacity. There was no discrimination against female diplomats. The role of women in peace-making efforts was highly important.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert commended the State party for the strategies developed in education, including the strategy which promoted the full-fledged participation of women, asking about timelines for implementation? What would the sexuality education framework, which initially outlined abstinence as the key strategy, be replaced with? Would the State consider replacing it with the Convention’s definition of responsible sexuality education? How had Armenia addressed the digital divide, and access to technology? How would it be ensured that girls, especially those with disabilities and those in rural areas, be provided access to all the equipment required for remote learning? How did Armenia plan to remedy lost learning time from children, for example by adjusting school calendars? What steps had the State taken to implement the commitments enshrined in the Safe Schools Declaration? What was being done to remedy the disproportionate harm to girls’ access to education, caused as a result of the conflict? What measures were in place to encourage women to take up professions traditionally reserved for men? What steps were being taken in the area of vocational education, to ensure access to girls with disabilities and other vulnerable groups?

A Committee Expert asked if substantial progress was being seen in the labour field, in practice? What were the most recent developments in terms of revising and updating the Labour Code to exhaustively handle the issue of discrimination, particularly against marginalised groups? Were the inspectoral bodies that reinforced the Labour Code in operation? Harassment was not defined in the Labour Code; this was an important issue for working women. How did the State intend to ensure that women and girls in companies could regain equality of opportunity?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said everyone in Armenia had the right to choose their job, as enshrined in the Labour Code and Constitution. The Labour Code stipulated that men and women were paid the same amount for equal work. Women were employed to a greater extent to industries where there was a greater demand for education, however, the work was relatively low paid. A seasonal employment programme was implemented in 2022, with women accounting for 26 per cent of beneficiaries. Extensive changes were being made to the Labour Code which allowed, among others, for additional breaks for breast feeding mothers. Pregnant women were well protected within the Labour Code. Violence and sexual harassment were prohibited. The disability assessment in Armenia was changing to a functionality assessment, and this would impact legislation in the workplace. Health and labour inspection bodies were given power across multiple sectors of the workplace.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert congratulated the State party for the structural commitments being made. Armenia should work with employment organizations and the political will held by the Government should be shared with the heads of companies in the country.

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said the education strategy for 2030 was in the process of adoption, with full adoption envisaged by November this year. The strategy clearly outlined the need for gender-sensitive measures, including the establishment of an accessible learner centre, which would allow high quality education to be accessible for all persons. New education standards were being piloted this year and this would be rolled out to all year levels the following year. The new standards ensured a gender-sensitive approach which had been reviewed by the Council of Europe. Science, technology, engineering and math education was being fostered further, with separate programmes launched for female scientists.

According to the new law on preschool education, ethnic minorities had the right to organise preschool education in their mother tongue. Each year textbooks were published for ethnic minorities in their mother tongue. Consultations were regularly organised to inform ethnic minorities about their rights and their educational opportunities. Projects had been implemented throughout the State, focusing on the protection of the right of women and girls to education. The topics of relationships, relationships with peers, gender stereotypes, equal opportunities, and sexual violence, among others, would be discussed in the sexual and reproductive health component of the curriculum.

Armenia made the transition to distance learning in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, and measures had been taken to ensure access to digital devices, including several thousand computers and other devices being distributed to students. During the pandemic, public classes were held every day on the public broadcasting system and regional stations also broadcast lessons to those living in rural communities. Video lessons were also held and accompanied with sign language translation. A special psychological support hotline was also established for students and teachers.

The continuation of education of all children was being organised throughout the conflict, and psychological support was also provided. Teachers had also been given special training on how to deal with this unique situation. The general education law had been amended, making State funding for accessibility mandatory for all schools. All schools would receive funds to enhance accessibility and increase training for teachers on teaching students with disabilities. As of the beginning of 2022, there were 1,800 children with disabilities registered in public schools.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert said there had been immense goodwill in the responses provided, advising the delegation to think about children dropping out due to the conflict. There should be a firm component within the Education Act on the prevention of early pregnancies, which would help girls a lot. Data was needed regarding coverage of the digital devices. Were there explicit protections to ensure the implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration in legislation?

A Committee Expert said Armenia did not ensure free access to contraception or to family planning services, while rates of abortions remained high. Armenia had a high rate of maternal mortality. What measures were being taken to ensure women’s access to medical services, specifically family planning services? Did the cases in which abortion was legal include cases of rape, or severe foetal abnormalities? Would the State party take measures to ensure the provision of necessary specialists in all regions of the country? What efforts were being undertaken to increase the knowledge of health professionals when providing medical care to persons with disabilities?

Despite progress in HIV, women were disproportionally affected by this disease. What measures were being taken by the State party to build awareness and eliminate any stereotypes against women victims of HIV? What programmes were in place to support women with HIV and their families? Were women with mental health disorders and drug abuse problems given access to treatment services?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said medical assistance for women of reproductive age during pregnancy and birth was provided for free, regardless of their social status or where they lived. The State was constantly working to ensure high quality, accessible medical care in reproductive health. The list of medical services rendered to women and girls had been expanded. The Government of Armenia had confirmed a programme for supporting reproductive health, and had allocated funds to implement this, including providing services to high-risk groups and reproductive technology tests for specific population groups. Efforts had been made to increase training on HIV and sexual health in rural areas. Since 2012, a system had been introduced of short-term deployments, where specialists in certain fields were deployed to rural areas on very attractive terms. Women with disabilities were provided with full medical assistance. The State was working to ensure accessibility in all medical institutions, including through the use of ramps and accessible toilets.

Women with positive HIV status were eligible to receive medical support, with many receiving free medical treatment. Courses were provided on topical HIV infections, with particular attention focused on gender equality and stigma, and issues of discrimination. The staff members of the national institute of infectious diseases were instructed about HIV and on eradicating stigma amongst vulnerable groups. The national health care institute had developed a textbook on preventing discrimination by gender for medical personnel. Progress had been made on the subject of abortions; the percentage of abortions went from 55 per cent in 2000, down to 26 per cent in 2016. Abortions were conducted at the request of pregnant women for medical reasons. There were also social indications such as incest and rape, which allowed women to carry out abortions.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked if contraception was available for women, and whether it was low cost or free of charge for women with low incomes?

Another Committee Expert said around 40 per cent of women had bank accounts compared to 60 per cent of men. What measures had been taken to increase women’s access to loans and specific training? Were there concrete results in terms of beneficiaries? Were women involved in the gender-sensitive climate action programme? Were there initiatives to promote the participation of women in the green economy?

LIA NADARAIA, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Armenia, said 82 per cent of women in rural areas worked informally, and women almost always did not participate in decision making regarding their communities. What steps were being planned to promote women’s advancement in rural areas, and to support rural women? Elderly women faced abuse, neglect, and exploitation in their own houses and facilities. How was the gender mainstreaming strategy for overcoming the consequences of aging and the protection of the elderly people being implemented, and was there a new strategy being developed? Women with disabilities continued to face barriers to health care services, which was especially true for rural areas. How did Armenia plan to address this? How was gender mainstreamed in the State programme? What steps did Armenia plan to take to provide assistance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer women?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said the State’s start up business incubation was focused only on rural regions, as it was recognised that there was a clear need for these regions to contribute to the country’s economic activity. The State created a guaranteed fund which provided funding to entrepreneurs who had passed the State-mandated entrepreneurship training programme. Loan financing was provided at a lower interest rate for women; 7 per cent for women compared to 9 per cent for men. In 2022, over 50 per cent of those applying for finance were women, up from 36 per cent in 2021.

The social protection strategy was being completely overhauled and there would be significant new changes. Disability should be answered from the point of the functionality of the person, and all environments should have real inclusion. Foster care services and orphanages were being developed to make them more accessible, which was a big opportunity to ensure each child could be brought up in a family. The delegation said there were programmes in place for migrants who voluntarily returned. A project provided grants for business establishments and training for competent business management.

Questions by a Committee Expert

A Committee Expert said the legal minimum age for marriage in Armenia was 18, however, girls could marry at the ages of 16 or 17 with the consent of a legal guardian. Reports indicated that girls had left school as a result of early marriage, and there were no preventative programmes. Could the delegation comment on this? How was the Government dealing with the consequences of dissolution of de facto marriages and unions? The Committee recommended that governments protected women and children in such de facto unions and marriages; could the delegation comment on this?

Closing Remarks

TATEVIK STEPANYAN, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Armenia and Head of Delegation , expressed sincere gratitude to the Committee, saying the comments and concerns raised were appreciated. Armenia would continue to move forward and work towards eliminating all forms of discrimination against women. Armenia was looking forward to continuing collaboration with the Committee for a better and more peaceful future.

ANA PELAEZ NARVAEZ, Committee Vice Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue, saying it allowed the Committee to better understand the situation of women and girls in Armenia. The Committee congratulated Armenia on its progress, encouraging the State to adopt all recommendations of the Committee.

 

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