A member of parliament in Azerbaijan has proposed ditching the International Women's Day holiday on March 8 and replacing it with a celebration of the April 28 birthday of President Ilham Aliyev's late mother. The proposed change is stoking fresh debate about the Aliyev family's place in Azerbaijani society.
Elmira Akhundova, a pro-government, non-party-aligned MP from the southern region of Masalli, called for the change during a February 2 session of parliament. Akhundova is also the author of a recently published biography of the late president, Heydar Aliyev, the father of the incumbent leader.
"Azerbaijan's people respectfully remember Zarifa Aliyeva, the faithful spouse of national leader Heydar Aliyev. The celebration of her birthday as a Mother's Day could demonstrate national love for Zarifa khanum," Akhundova said, using the traditional Azeri form of address for a noblewoman.
By comparison, Akhundova continued, International Women's Day, a holiday that was heavily promoted during the Soviet era, has "lost its significance." The commemoration, she argued, should be abolished.
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Mira Miradova is a freelance reporter based in Baku.