The issue of protection of women’s rights, from the prevention of violence against women and domestic violence to the under-representation of women in public decision-making process, remains a problem in Armenia. According to assessments of international organizations and human rights activists, women in Armenia continue to be significantly under-represented in public decision-making.

In this respect, the issue remains to ensure full and effective participation of women, as well as equal opportunities for leadership, equal pay and equal access to the labor market at all levels of public life. The difficulties of changing the public atmosphere are also considered to be problematic.

The domestic violence problem in Armenia, although not widely reported, is a matter of serious concern due to the increasing number of cases. The Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence has been in place for about two years, but there have been reports of horrific cases of domestic violence.

“There has been no progress this year in terms of women’s rights protection and their involvement in politics. These issues remain a daily matter,” a member of the “Enlightened Armenia” Faction Ani Samsonyan said during the discussion on the topic “Women’s Rights in 2019: The Problems of Underrepresentation and Violence Prevention”.

“We could not develop mechanisms to provide flexible solutions to the problem,” Ani Samsonyan noted. According to her, we have seen a backward trend in the participation of women in local government.

“On September 29, I participated in community pre-election campaigns and discussions on women’s involvement, and there was considerable difficulty in this issue as local self-government elections have become less attractive for women and their turnout has declined,” said the NA Luminous Armenia faction MP Ani Samsonyan noting that 99 candidates were nominated for 7 communities, of which only 12 were women.

The MP noted that the same was true in the December local government elections.

According to Maria Karapetyan, a member of the NA My Step faction, the problem is profound, since there has been no abrupt and unprecedented increase in women’s participation in politics after the revolution:

 “However, at the moment the country’s ruling power has adopted a policy of promoting equality between men and women. We need to educate girls starting from their childhoos so that, when they grow up, they have a network of people, voters, have a voice, and are recognized…,” Maria Karapetyan said.

Maria Karapetyan also pointed out the positive changes: “Today, there is a governing power in Armenia whose philosophy and pre-election program’s central theses are the equality of men and women, as well as the building of a non-violent society. I should note that we have the highest number of female deputy ministers in this government than we had in previous periods,” she noted.

According to Nina Pirumyan, Head of the RA Ombudsman’s Research and Education Center, the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the fight against violence against them should not be viewed as women’s struggle for their rights.

“The ultimate addressee is the state as well as the society. Violence against women in the family is the most gross violation of their rights,” Nina Pirumyan noted.

According to Zara Hovhannisyan, coordinator of the Coalition Against Violence Against Women and a human rights activist, women’s under-representation in public-political life remains urgent.

She also touched upon domestic violence against women.

“A separate, independent issue and challenge is to increase the effectiveness of domestic violence prevention mechanisms, as violence against women in the family is the most brutal form of discrimination against women. This, in turn, impedes and does not allow a woman to express herself in other relationships, including in working relationships,” said Zara Hovhannisyan, Coordinator of the Coalition Against Violence Against Women.

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