Women empowerment remains a critical development issue in Armenia. Women comprise 52.2% of population in Armenia and 56% of those with higher education. However, their representation in decision-making at all levels remains low: 24.2% in the parliament, less than 10% in the local governance.
The global Inter-Parliamentary Union in its “Women in Politics: 2019” report, ranked Armenia in the 76th place out of 191 as per the seats women hold in the parliament. According to the Gender Gap Index 2018, Armenia is in the 115th place out of 149 countries in terms of political empowerment. Within the new public administration, the numbers at the highest positions continue to raise concerns, with only 1 out of 12 ministers being a female (8%) and only 12 out of 46 deputy minister positions being occupied by a woman candidate (26%).
The local context also presents several challenges to the goal of participation, empowerment and gender equality. Various researches point at political, socio-economic and cultural factors, which limit women participation, such as: insufficient mechanisms and regulations to advance gender equality at the national and local level; reluctance of political parties to appreciate and promote women leadership; narrow gender identities; limited access to resources for economic empowerment; lack of female leadership culture and support networks; power distance; lack of confidence and skills among women; etc. All these factors limit opportunities for building a critical mass of female cadre in national and local governance.
To address the above challenges, UNDP implements the GEPAA project focusing on:
(i) Revealing risks and vulnerabilities in the public sector and their impact on men and women through a comprehensive research, including legal and policy framework, institutional structures;
(ii) Developing specific policy recommendations to tackle the identified gaps;
(iii) Prototyping new generation of policy solutions to fundamentally change the role of women in decision-making (public administration);
(iv) Revealing and measuring aspirations among students in regard of their potential to join the public service in Armenia;
(v) Reviewing and modernizing civil servants’ curricula including gender module;
(vi) Mapping key crosscutting SDG targets and indicators in collaboration with SDG Lab in Armenia with consideration of CEDAW general recommendations on the barriers for women in decision making;
(vii) Piloting in Armenia “Gender Equality Seal Award in Public Institutions’, as part of a global pilot.
The primary target of the project will be the RA Prime Minister’s Office, 3-4 key Ministries and Yerevan Municipality.
The expected outcome of the project is that gender equality prism will be ensured throughout implementation of the public administration reform in Armenia. It will also lay a solid basis for further continued work and replication of successes and results for stronger gender equality dimension in the public administration system, including policy and legal framework, organizational structure, incentive and enabling measures for better women engagement in public administration. In addition, findings from the survey among students on their aspirations and needs in their potential joining the public office will inform the overall reforming process from human resource management perspective and make if more conducive for women and men, potential leaders of next generation.
Some results so far:
- More than 20 government officials developed their capacity on Gender Equality Seal Award methodology (signature UNDP methodology) aimed to engender the internal processes in the key governmental institutions;
- Research has been initiated to reveal the aspirations of students on considering the public administration as future career; results are expected by the end of 2019;
- Country-wide research has been initiated to reveal the perceptions and attitudes of the wider population towards the engagement of men and women in the public service, their roles, potential triggers and obstacles;
- Topical aspects of gender equality and women empowerment discussed through UNDP’s signature “ThinkEQUAL” Conversations for various domains;
- Internal review of the legal and policy frameworks in the key government institutions undertaken.