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INFORMATION NEWSLETTERS

are the special issues (printed analogues were distributed in regions), shining{covering} about debatable problems gender theories, gender attitudes and relations in the most different areas of a public life. The research data resulted editions in a significant part are made by advisers of AGIC




THE GENDER RESEARCHES

In this section the gender researches are presented. The researches have been realized by the Azerbaijan authors with 1998 on present time




HOT LINE

To the submitted addresses it is possible to receive legal, psychological and medical aid:

The Crisis Center:
t: 4943376
wcc@online.az


legal consultation. pre-judicial preparation of the documentation . psychological rehabilitation, consultations of the gynecologist. psychiatrist, neuropathologist.

MHAIDS Azerbaijan:
t: 5106614 mhaids@initiative.az


consultations of the gynecologist. psychiatrist, neuropathologist. venereologist, the organization of the specialized analyses

Research Center AREAT
t: 438 15 77:

areat@azeronline.com

Consultations in registry offices about an opportunity of the conclusion of the marriage contract at registration of a marriage as precautionary measure against economic violence over family.

LTD Law and Order:
: (050) 341 06 60
law_order@gender-az.org


legal consultation, drawing up of judicial claims , pre-judicial preparation of the documentation, participation in judicial sessions as the public defender (prosecutor)

Clean World Social Union
: 497 10 58


Support to victims of human trafficking shelter for victims of human trafficking




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Hijab in a city: modern discussion on unity, freedom and headscarves in Azerbaijan


Aysel Vazirova

 

This article examines an element of the legal and political conflict between government institutions and Muslim women wearing headscarves in Azerbaijan. The conflict has taken the form of heated public discussion, court cases and collective public protests. The two opposing sides fought over Muslim women's right to attend classes in state educational institutions and to take passport pictures veiled (covering everything but face).

Contemporary interpretations of the hijab are set against the rich cultural and political background of the issue of veiling in modern Azeri society. The modernization that took place under Soviet rule strongly focused on the transformation of the private sphere and the creation of new women, actively involved in mass education and production. The transformation for Muslim women was described through the language of liberation, more specifically in the act of unveiling (forced and voluntary). Contemporary interpretations follow this tradition by representing hijab as either a prison for Muslim woman or liberation from imposed norms of Western femininity. These clashing interpretations are entrenched in common discourse which relates the covering and uncovering of female bodies to individual and social freedom.

I proceed with a close reading of the legal provision that sets the standards for passport pictures of Azerbaijani citizens. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a group of Muslim women supported by human rights activists presented two opposing interpretations of this provision during court proceedings in 1999. The former grounds its argument on the principle of equality of all citizens and considers it unacceptable to alter the laws of a secular state according to individual religious beliefs. The latter considers a ban on 'veiled' passport pictures a violation of the individual freedom of consciousness guaranteed by the constitution. The article continues with a suggestion that different ideas about the appearance of normative citizen on passport pictures are at the core of this debate. Modern ideas of citizenship, as demonstrated by R.Brubaker's analysis of citizenship in France and Germany, reflect particular ways of imagining the national community.                

A thorough examination of a wide spectrum of opinions represented in public discussion demonstrates that arguments are set within the meta-narratives of nation building and human rights. I propose that two discourses map the field of this public discussion in Azerbaijan. The official discourse of the nation-state in modern Azerbaijan merges «equality» and «unification» into the idea of political and cultural unity («birlik»). Cultural unity presupposes the unified production of religious interpretations and a certain mode of Islamic religiosity, included in the list of national values. Political and cultural unity is regarded as vital for the survival of the national community in its highest form, the nation-state. The language of cultural unity sets distinct borders for visual represen­tations of the normative citizen. Veiled bodies are placed outside of these borders in the realm of otherness. The oppositions between unity and division, authen­ticity and otherness are essential for this argument. Significant element of the discussion in newspaper articles and other sources includes the questioning of the authenticity of hijab in local tradition, or the incompatibility of veiling with the secular nature of Azerbaijan's state institutions. At the same time the dis­course of human rights considers veiled female bodies to be a reflection of individual choices protected by the freedom of consciousness. The main opposi­tion used here is between «human rights» and «discrimination». Thus the idea of freedom emerges again in the discussion as tied to the act of veiling. However this time freedom is placed within the general framework of recognition with regard to diversity of human beliefs and practices.

The two discourses described above are used by opposing sides in the conflict and are hardly compatible. In their argument the opponents of hijab consider equality as a core of the institution of citizenship. This idea is closely tied to the political and cultural unity of citizens as essential for the survival of nation-state. Within this language, diversity is described as carrying a potential threat of division. On the other hand the language of human rights used by proponents of hijab treats unification as detrimental to the freedom of individual choices.

I conclude by suggesting that the conflict around passport pictures reflects the challenges in bridging the gap between two discourses organizing the discussion of hijab in Azerbaijan and may bring to the fore a reconsideration of dominant ways of imagining the nation, religion and freedom.

This article is a part of a broader research conducted in 2005 with the support of H. Boell Foundation.

VIRTUAL MUSEIM

AGIC promotes creating the history of civil society and those initiations by studying womans public activity in the end of XIX - the beginning of XX centuries. The collection of the visual evidences and oral reminiscences allows not only to recalled the events, become utterly absorbed in the atmosphere that reigned at that time but also to comprehend, understand how and what efforts were demanded for establishing of Caucasus womens rights. The information collected here will serve also as a supporting material for teachers, historians and researchers working in the sphere of womans and gender problems. They will get an opportunity of using these unique documents as historical references, visual and oral evidences.




EUROPEAN WOMENS THESAURUS

The European Womens Thesaurus is the tool for definition and search of the "female" information in databanks, the Internet and the collection of womens libraries, the documentary centers and archives. The European Womens Thesaurus contains 2087 European terms.

In the Azerbaijan version of the Thesaurus are brought 589 terms reflecting sociopolitical realities of the Azerbaijan society, national and Islamic culture.




GENDER DIRECTORY

is the data-base of all the national actors involved in women's and gender issues work. The data base supposes to include the gender focal points: State agencies, National parliament, Business sector, Mass media outlets, International organizations, functioning in Azerbaijan, Funding institutions, functioning in Azerbaijan,Diplomatic corps, functioning in Azerbaijan, the individual actors (individual feminists, writers and poets, artists, scientific womens rights lawyers). Attention! The directory is connected by links to databases of womens NGOs (both registered and non-registered), NGOs carrying out gender projects, researchers and teachers.




AZERBAIJAN STATE COMMITTEE ON FAMILY, WOMAN AND CHILD PROBLEMS

In Azerbaijan by initiative of the President Ilham Aliev in accordance with Presidential Decree dated by 6 of February 2006 State Committee on Family, Women and Children issues has been established. Chairwoman of the Committee is Mrs. Khidjran Guseynova. She is the professor of the Baku State University and the first woman- the doctor of political sciences in Azerbaijan




THE NATIONAL DOCUMENTS

The section presents the international documents on achievement of equality between men and women and protection of human rights for women.




THE INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTS

The section presents the international documents on achievement of equality between men and women and protection of human rights for women.




DATABASE OF WOMEN'S NGO

The database base of womens NGOs includes the registered and unregistered organizations, womens f groups. Attention! There arent practically precisely profile NGOs in Azerbaijan. For completeness of the information search is recommended to realize by several key words




DATABASE OF NGOS, CARRYING OUT GENDER PROJECTS

The database represents the information about the international and national projects on gender problems for the period 1998-2007. Search is carried out both by thematic key words and under names of NGOs






Human Rights in the XXI Century - Azerbaijan














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Regional Initiative of Women's Groups for Promoting ICT as a Strategic Tool for Social Transformation









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