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Women in South Caucasus Continue to be Underrepresented in Government: Report

First Vice-President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva meets with former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga in Baku. Aliyeva is the top-ranking female politician in the South Caucasus, where women continue to be underrepresented in positions of power. (photo: president.az)

The countries of the South Caucasus have far fewer women in positions of power than their European counterparts, according to a new report from the Council of Europe.

The report, published by the Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Commission, tracks the progress made by 46 countries towards the goal set by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers in 2003 of having at least 40 percent of both men and women taking part in different aspects of political and public life.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia fell short in nearly all the measures.
In terms of women elected into lower parliamentary houses in 2016, Georgia scored 12 percent and Armenia, nine percent. Azerbaijan came out in top at about 17 percent, but it still fell short of the European average of 26 percent.

Just seven percent of parliamentary committee presidents in Georgia were women; 17 percent in Azerbaijan and 10 percent in Armenia. The Europe-wide average was 26 percent. Likewise, on the tally of women in junior and senior ministerial positions, Armenia led the region with 13 percent, Georgia with 11 percent, and Azerbaijan just three percent. The European average was 22 percent.

For the South Caucasus, the lack of women in mayoral positions was perhaps the starkest statistic of all in 2016. Georgia had no women in a mayoral role, while just two percent of Armenia's mayors were women, and one percent of Azerbaijan's. The European average itself was low, as well, at 13 percent.

One area where women in the Caucasus are represented well is in political party leadership: Five parties each in Georgia and Armenia were measured; of those one in Georgia was led by a woman, and two in Armenia. Those both outpaced the European average of 15 percent. Azerbaijan wasn't measured on that scale; in any case there is only one party of note there, the New Azerbaijan Party, and its leader is a man: President Ilham Aliyev.

The report did highlight a handful of significant advances over the years. In Armenia, the Constitutional Court went from no women in 2005 to 22 percent in 2016. Azerbaijan saw Europe's biggest increase in the number of women in regional parliaments from 2005 to 2016, increasing 13 percentage points.
And while the region had no female vice presidents or deputy prime ministers in 2016, next year's report will put Azerbaijan into the regional lead: Mehriban Aliyeva, already the first lady, was named vice president in February. 

Women in South Caucasus Continue to be Underrepresented in Government: Report

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