Banking Baku talks to Ms. Sahiba Gafarova, Member of Parliament of Azerbaijan Republic

Banking Baku:  As an expert on Gender issues, what are the main challenges that women face in modern Azerbaijan?

Generally we do not have so many problems, because all our laws on gender issues, on women issues were signed and adopted. But of course there are some problems. We have problems with early marriage. Early marriage means that young girls do not go to schools, and they marry at a young age. According to our law, people can marry only from eighteen years. If someone marries before she/he is eighteen, we say it is early marriage. Children born into family of early marriages will not have the surname of the father because the marriage are not officially approved by the government. Most early marriages have ended in divorce, and in such a situation the young mother with a child, or with children very often does not have any job, because she does not have any education, thus she does not have a regular income, and would find it difficult asking for help from the government for her child or children because her marriage and children are not documented.

As is in so many other countries, it is a shame that domestic violence is still a problem in our country. The law on Prevention of Domestic Violence was adopted in 2010. Of course our government and the “State Committee for Family, Women, and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan” are doing a lot to tackle this problem. The fight against the domestic violence is remarkable, I know that they have different programs whereby they meet with the victims and assist them through various support both legal and psychological. The sad case with domestic violence is that very often it is not exposed or spoken against because of the wrong assumption that is our traditions for women to remain subordinate. To improve the situation women must know their rights. The government of Azerbaijan through the State Committee for Family, Women, and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan is doing that by organizing different trainings. There are also many NGOs involved in this kind of problems in the society that invite experts in this sphere to organize different trainings, in different regions. It should be said that the problem is predominant in the rural areas. Again I want to point out that we have the law, not one, but different laws, on gender equality, on discrimination, on domestic violence, etc. Certainly, our government does its best to improve the situation.

Sahiba GAFAROVA (AzerbaijanEDGRapporteur for opinion

Banking Baku: In all aspects, be it in economic, women issues, and equality, it is been shown that Azerbaijan is the most rapidly growing country in the CIS and in the region of EECCA. Thisis an achievement that as a Nation we are very proud of. As are member of Azerbaijan Parliament and Delegation in Council of Europe, how is Azerbaijan viewed at in Europe?

Azerbaijan is part of Europe, is a part of Council of Europe. Azerbaijan became a member of Council of Europe in 2001, of course Azerbaijan is a secular country, Muslim, but secular country. But now, if we speak about today, in present times unfortunately, I would like to speak about double standards, now we experience double standards within Europe, from Europe towards Azerbaijan. Europe knows that even though we identify as a Muslim country, but we are very that we are secular country in our way of life and we have great tolerance to all faith evident by the peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians here. But personally, I think that there are certain powers in the world, which want to rule everything in the world. But the fact still remains that Azerbaijan is an independent country and this might not be a state that some part of the world would wish for us, a country with an independent open policy and rich in oil which make us the richest country in the region. I should think that we should get more accolades for all what as a country we have been able to achieve, despite located in a very difficult geographical area. But this is not always the case.

To read the full  interview, please check the hard copy version of Banking Baku magazine