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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




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Women entrepreneurs



1. Introduction

The Azerbaijan Republic is one of the countries with a transition economy. Besides the profound socio-economic crisis, common to these countries, Azerbaijan is also burdened by the consequences of the military conflict with Armenia. Having established its independence after the collapse of the USSR, and starting important socio-economic reforms in the process of transition to the market economy, the Azerbaijan Republic has faced crucial difficulties in maintaining the territorial integrity and inviolability of its borders. A large socially vulnerable group of society, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), represents about 15% of the total population. Women and children find themselves in the most difficult and tragic situation.

Many new economic opportunities have been created due to the economic and technological changes, which occurred during the transition period. However, not every man or woman has been able to reap the benefits of economic progress. For economic and social efficiency to go hand in hand, all members of society - both men and women - must realize their human potential to contribute to development and to fully benefit from growth. This cannot be achieved and sustained without the participation of women in the social, economic, political or cultural spheres.

In Azerbaijan, women constitute the majority of the population, or 51.2 %. The number of enterprises owned by women has been constantly increasing during the recent years. As the development of small business has proven to be an effective instrument for poverty alleviation, reduction of unemployment and increasing employment and income generation, it is important to ensure that potential and current women entrepreneurs are not left out of the overall development processes in the country. Women entrepreneurship contributes to the creation of new jobs, encourages economic and social empowerment of women, and also promotes the reduction of gender inequalities in society. The analysis of needs, problems and specifics of women-owned business will facilitate further development of women entrepreneur-ship in particular, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in general.

A number of initiatives have been taken of late by the government, donors and non-governmental organizations, both on local and international levels, to increase the employment opportunities of women and provide them with necessary resources and skills to start and develop their business. However, socio-economic barriers and some gender specific constraints still remain, limiting the access of women to production resources, credits and market opportunities. Furthermore, certain stereotypes prevalent in society, discourage women from entering into business.

In order to develop the appropriate policies that would support and facilitate women entrepreneurship in the country, there is a need to study the issues related to the specifics of women-owned business. What problems do women entrepreneurs have? Do they have equal access to finance and business development services? What style of management is the most typical for women-owned enterprises? Are women entrepreneurs supported by their spouses and other family members? This is not a complete list of questions that are raised and reflected on in this report.

2. Objectives, methodology and structure of the study

Within the framework of the ILO project "Women Entrepreneurship Development Through Employers' Organizations in Azerbaijan and Georgia", principal objectives of this study are: to identify the main trends and the specific situation of women entrepreneurs in Azerbaijan; to collect and analyze data on women entrepreneurs, including the characteristic features of women entrepreneurs, their challenges and concerns; to examine current legislation related to small business; to assess the role of support organizations that assist women entrepreneurs; and to examine women's participation in business and in civic organizations.

This study on women entrepreneur-ship development in Azerbaijan was conducted by means of a field survey and secondary-desk review. The field survey was undertaken in the southern regions (Masalli, Jalilabad), in the North (Guba, Gusar, Khachmaz), and in the western region - Mingechaur, and Baku. It was based on a sample of 200 men and women entrepreneurs, which was followed by an in-depth study of a smaller group of 15 women entrepreneurs to identify the needs and major issues hampering more successful performance of women in small and medium enterprises. The field survey was conducted in the sectors dominated mostly by women: food processing, textile, agriculture, beauty care, and handicrafts. It reviewed what is already known about women entrepreneurs and their experience, and highlighted some critical issues.

The objective of the secondary-desk research was to review the current legislation and government documents, programmes and policies, as well as existing financial support mechanisms provided for women entrepreneurs. The desk- research also included a review of data from the official statistical and employment institutions concerning women's share in employment, unemployment and the educational status of women in order to highlight the potential of women to become more actively involved in the economic transformation.

Based on the findings of the survey and secondary-desk review, the report has been prepared so as to provide an analysis of the issues and the factors contributing and affecting women entrepreneurship. The report reflects the following issues:

  • Background information on the women's position on the labour market, and the scale, scope and profile of women's entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan;
  • Available policy, economic and public environment for women entrepreneurship development: gaps, problems, barriers, difficulties and opportunities;
  • Constraints, including socio-cultural, educational, technological, legal and financial factors that existing and potential women entrepreneurs face in Azerbaijan.
  • Major differences between male and female entrepreneurs (including their current activities, motivations, successful experiences);
  • Overview on efforts, undertaken by the government, NGOs and donors to empower women economically through support to income-generation; micro and small enterprise development programmes and credit provisions;
  • The scope and role of business services (BDS) in providing support to women entrepreneurs;
  • The existing mechanism of women entrepreneurs' support in employers' organizations; membership of women entrepreneurs in these organizations; efficiency of women entrepreneurs' associations, employers' organizations and other business associations in promoting the interests and needs of women entrepreneurs; relationship and collaboration between women entrepreneurs' associations and employers' organizations;
  • Providing recommendations that should be taken up by the Government, employers' organizations, donors, and NGOs to improve the prospects for women entrepreneurship development and its subsequent contribution to increased employment opportunities and poverty alleviation. Special emphasis is given to the role of employers' organizations in providing sustainable and effective support to women entrepreneurs, increase their membership in employers' organizations and pomote the principles of gender equality in policies and practices of these organizations.

  • 3. Women on the labour market in Azerbaijan

    3.1 Background information

    Women constitute 51.2 % of the population in Azerbaijan. National legislation, namely the Constitution, ensures equal rights of men and women. Women are represented in public administration, in the Parliament and in various organizations, but the level of representation is very low if compared to men's.

    Since 1994, the country has been targeted at sustainable development and stabilization of political and economic situation. In keeping with this trend, preparations were undertaken for the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), when, in June 1995, the Azerbaijan Republic ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The participation of Azerbaijan women in the Beijing Conference, in September 1995, created more interest in women's issues in the country.

    The Presidential Decree of 1998 "On Strengthening of Women's Role in Society", identified the areas urgently requiring increased attention of the government. At the same time, the Presidential Decree established the State Committee on Women's Issues.

    Transition to the market economy has profoundly changed the basic political and economic structures in Azerbaijan. The present-day socio-economic development of Azerbaijan forced men and women to adjust themselves to the new, very complex and tense conditions. The suddenness and abruptness of the ongoing processes, the search for ways to adapt to the new economic conditions, the inability of the majority of the population to enter the market economy due to the lack of initial capital, professional skills, intellectual and moral unreadiness - all these factors resulted in the substantial decline of social standards, which previously had been guaranteed by the socialist system.

    The primary reasons that led to changes in the labour market and deterioration of the situation of women may be summarized as follows:

  • Serious economic difficulties and decreased production;
  • Insufficient national policies concerning the situation of women in the labour market;
  • Lack of information on available employment and business opportunities;
  • Difficulties in accessing credit and capital markets;
  • Low levels of technical and managerial skills;
  • Lack of assertiveness and self-confidence.

  • 3.2. Economic statud and some specifics of women's employent

    During the Soviet period, in accordance with the instructions of the central political bodies, women were proportionally represented in the legislative and executive bodies. Furthermore, women worked in all spheres of economy, including administration, education and services. In the agricultural sector, most women worked in the kolkhoz and sovkhoz. Traditionally, due to the national mindset, the number of housewives was high.

    As a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and other known events in the Republic, the economy has been adversely affected (with the exception of the oil sector) and the level of employment of the population, including women, has decreased. The situation was further deteriorated by the military conflict with Armenia over Nagorno Kharabakh and surrounding regions. As a result, a large socially vulnerable stratum of society has emerged - refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

    Since the mid 1990s, due to privatisation of the state property, development of entrepreneurship, and land reforms conducted in the country, the situation has stabilized, which resulted in positive changes in the employment level of the population. However, there are still serious problems concerning the employment of women, which can be characterized by the following factors:

  • Not developing light and food industries, electrical engineering, big and medium enterprises in the oil refining industry, where women are predominately employed;
  • Abrupt reduction of women's share in the economy and in the intellectual and scientific sectors;
  • Women's lower salaries than men's for the work of equal value;
  • Reduced demand for handicraft items and applied arts (carpet weaving, silkworm breeding, etc.);
  • Low rates of women attending training and re-training exercises;
  • Increased participation of women in trade (peddling, shops, fairs);
  • Increased number of women working on their own farms, in cattle-breeding, vegetable growing, etc.



  • The age limits during which men and women may exercise their economic activity have been stipulated by law. Until 1999, the limit for men was 16 to 59; for women it was 16 to 59. From 1999 to 2000, men between the age of 16 to 60 and women between 16 to 55 years of age were considered able-bodied. Starting from 2001, men between 16 to 61 and women between 16 to 56 were referred to as able-bodied population.





    In 2002, economically active population in Azerbaijan amounted to 3,777,500 people of which 1,806,400 (or 43%) were women. Of the total population, 3,726,500 people (including 1,778,500 women) are actively employed.

    Diagram 4 shows the proportion of economically active women among the total number of female population.



    There are certain differences in the structure of men and women employment in relation to the type of activity and economic area. The main spheres of women's activity are the following sectors of social services: public health, education, culture, science, credit and insurance. As in many other countries of the world, these sectors are characterized by the lower status and lower remuneration. Men are prevalently employed in the material production sector with the following distribution: in industry - 50%, in transportation - more than 90%, in construction - more than 90%, and in management of administrative and political posts - more than 70%. If one considers the categories of work performance in more detail, then even sharper differences, based on gender, may be observed. For example, in the field of teaching, women are prevalent in primary and middle school. Women constitute 57% of all teachers in grades 1 to 4; 42% in grades 5 to 11; and 23% of all teachers of music, singing, fine arts, physical education, work training. In conclusion, women represent 43% of all teachers. Additionally, women represent 31% of all managers. However, the share of male teachers in institutions of higher education is higher. In spite of the fact that female employment in the area of public health is the highest, the percentage of female doctors, in all specialties, is only 37%. In management positions of different branches of the economy and in the social sphere, women constitute 33% of all workers.

    Diagram 5 shows sectoral distribution of Paid female labour in various areas of the economy.



    As can be seen from the graph, women in Azerbaijan are mostly involved in educational, medical, social and community services, and in processing sectors.

    The educational level of men and women (1999) is shown in the Diagram 6.



    Diagram 7 reflects the age distribution of registered unemployment among men and women in 2000.

    The analysis of NGOs proves that the level of unemployment in Azerbaijan corresponds to 20-25% (informal data) of the economically active population.

    Women, involved in the employment are mostly hired employees. This category is followed by that of women working on farms and in agriculture; a small number of women are engaged in entrepreneurial activity. The distribution of women by social groups in various economic areas is given in Diagram 8.



    The analysis of women participation in the labour market shows that the informal economy definitely represents a sector where women can earn some income. The informal sector is used by many women in Azerbaijan as a means of survival under the current economic conditions and allows their families to overcome economic difficulties. It should be noted that currently work in the informal sector requires less qualification and education and is less geared to men.

    Former teachers, medical workers, engineers, technical workers, and other representatives of the professional sector are engaged in trade because of the low income provided by their core professions. Many women consider that this kind of activity is temporary and would like to work in their own, core profession. As was already mentioned, women constitute 49% of the active population of the country and only 7% of them are registered as small enterprise owners. Many women (64.2%) accept low qualified work due to the high earnings it provides.

    The interests of the family are more important for women than working in state institutions or in officially registered private enterprises. Family interests, maintaining the household, and child-care are of greater importance for women than work in the government or in formal, private enterprises. The non-state sector and other areas of the economy are being developed. The rate of female labour in rural areas has increased due to the land distribution and farming development.

    One of the factors limiting women's economic activity is their exclusion from the process of privatization. Despite the fact that men and women have equal property rights, in accordance with unofficial statistics, 90% of new property owners ard men.

    It is very important to ensure the equal participation of men and women in privatisation processes. The development of property ownership is a principal pre-requisite for the improvement of economic conditions and plays a vital role in poverty reduction.



    The involvement of women of the economy ensures the gender balance, according to the main social goal - achieving equality in society through female participation in labour. Women have access only to limited information on the directions and essence of privatization processes in the country. The lack of legal information and other regulating documentation on the privatisation of state property restricts the participation of women in this process.

    The overall employment rates have dropped in the past decade. In the beginning of the transition period women have been experiencing higher levels of official unemployment than men; today, both men and women unemployment rates are almost similar: 0.99% for men and 1.73% for women.

    Research, conducted by the World Bank and State Statistics Committee in 2001 to identify the poverty level in the country, confirmed a close connection between the gender of the head of family. The poverty level in the country is 49%, but depending on gender, it varies between men and women. The poverty level for men is 48%, while it is over than 50% for women.

    The statistical bodies of Azerbaijan have data only on those that are officially registered with the government employment agencies. According to this data, the number of unemployed people was 50963 in 2002, 23088 of whom were men and 27875 (54.7%) were women.

    As stated in the State Programme on Poverty Reduction and Economic Development for 2003-2005, poverty level measurements are not based solely on income and expense rates. Furthermore, women and men face poverty in different ways. Although there are no serious investigations in this field, taking into consideration the employment rate of women, it becomes evident that women unemployment is higher than men's, and the poverty risk is higher for women. But reality is much more complicated than the data suggests. Though the pension age of women is 5 years lower than that of men, the percentage of women unemployment is nonetheless superior.

    Although, the Azeri legislation claims equal remuneration for the work of equal value, in most of the spheres women's salaries are not equal to those of men. The real salary of women working in different areas remains considerably lower than those of men (in the oil industry the difference amounts to 56%; in the chemical industry it is 72%; and in communications it is 85%, etc.)

    The employment statistics in the country cover only the formal sector of the economy and no regular surveys have been conducted on the shifting situation of the labour force, which makes it more complicated to collect appropriate and complete data on the sectoral distribution of labour. The statistics on gender disaggregated wages do not provide sufficiently detailed information.

    3.3. Women entrepreneur ship in Azerbaijan: general observation

  • There are no official statistics on women entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan. According to some sources, 7-8% of small and medium entrepreneurs are women. Nonetheless, other sources confirm that these figures have been exaggerated, since in some cases, small and medium enterprises are registered under the name of women but in reality the enterprise is managed by the husband or other relatives.
  • The principal difficulties faced by women entrepreneurs in Azerbaijan can be essentially described as follows:
  • Lack of knowledge and experience in market economy and entrepreneur-ship;
  • Consequences of the military conflict with Armenia;
  • Inactive methods of job search and employment skills application;
  • Traditional dependence of women on family and spouse;
  • Small number of women trained or retrained.

  • One of the factors limiting female participation in the economic life of the country in general, and developing small business in particular is their exclusion from economic reforms conducted in the country and from the development of the private sector and from the process of privatization. Of all able-bodied women, 69.2% work in the private sector and 30,8% in the state sector. Only 3% of those who work in the private sector have their own business. In management positions of different economic and social sectors women constitute 33% of those employed. Furthermore, women business owners are highly concentrated in micro and small enterprises with a small proportion distributed among medium and large enterprises.

    Women hesitate to start their own business due to the following reasons:

  • Low rate of property ownership by women;
  • Lack of starting capital;
  • Lack of information concerning the registration of the enterprise;
  • Difficulties in finding financial and capital markets;
  • Lack of knowledge related to business matters.

  • Besides the above indicated reasons, socio-economic barriers in the country complicate the access of women to production resources (credit and finance), available markets, business opportunities and advanced technology. Certain stereotypes, such as the traditional role of being responsible for the household, as well as the low level of confidence and self-esteem, prevalent in society in general, discourage women from entering into business.

    So, the major obstacles to the successful performance of women entrepreneurs, include:

  • insufficient professional skills,
  • limited access to finance, technical and management training,
  • limited advocacy,
  • specifics of cultural environment, traditional attitudes and societal stereotypes.

  • CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN AZERBAIJAN

    As the Report on women entrepreneurship development in Azerbaijan has shown, women entrepreneurs are an emerging force in the social and economic life of the country. In general, most women-oriented organizations focus on advocacy and political lobbying and only small interventions have been made in the fields of women's entrepreneurship support, education and training, advisory services and research on issues related to women employment in general and women entrepreneurship, in particular. Still a lot should be done in these economically important areas in order to improve the situation with business development in Azerbaijan.

    Generally, WE support institutions in Azerbaijan face difficulties in improving their capacity and ensuring their financial sustainability. The following findings werfl made on the basis of the secondary-desk research and field survey:

  • As a result of the state support, a more favorable entrepreneurial environment is being formed in Azerbaijan;
  • Following the macro-economic changes in the country, more well-educated women with professional skills and business-related knowledge are willing to enter into entrepreneurship;
  • Women entrepreneurs participate in increasing employment and economic processes corresponding to the objectives of the State Program on Poverty Reduction and Economic Development;
  • The bureaucratic barriers related to registration reduce the networking and entrepreneurship initiatives of women and create difficulties in solving of their specific problems;
  • Institutions offering Business Development Services can't meet the needs and requirements of women entrepreneurs and they don't have programs targeted at women;
  • Because of the lack networking among women entrepreneurs, they have limited opportunities to access information and obtain the knowledge required for business activity;
  • Due to the lower representation level of women entrepreneurs in national employers' and women's organizations, they do not benefit from being members of these organizations and use services provided by them.

  • One of the factors ensuring the active participation of women in society is their equal representation in high managerial positions and decision-making level. Unfortunately, in Azerbaijan, the lower share of women at these levels restricts their involvement in making and adopting economic and political decisions.

    The development of women entrepreneurship requires the implementation of appropriate measures in various areas, and the perspectives for advancing in this area exist. Stimulating and promoting women entrepreneurship is also a step towards achieving more gender equality in society.

    The following measures should be recommended

    to be taken by the Government:

  • Elaborate proposals of the Cabinet of Ministers on stimulating women entrepreneurship development in Azerbaijan and submit them to the relevant structures;
  • Strengthen the process of the preparatory work for joining the ILO Conventions related to gender equality No 183 on Maternity protection and No 156 on Workers with Family Responsibilities;
  • Establish informational and training center, with the involvement of different governmental structures and in cooperation with non-governmental and commercial institutions, to provide education and training for unemployed women wishing to start their business;
  • Develop the database on women entrepreneurs and profile of their businesses. Attempts have been made within the survey conducted in the framework of the ILO/ASK project, to collect the appropriate information, but this data should be complemented by a profound and more broad research conducted by the government;
  • Government should abolish the legal restrictions (related to very strong bureaucratic arrangements for registration) that currently impede the efforts of NGOs to support national development programs and activities, targeted on women entrepreneurship support;
  • Improve the state crediting and leasing systems to make them more "friendly" and favourable for existing and potential women entrepreneurs; link the existing credit programs to entrepreneur-ship development training programs to make them more comprehensive;
  • Establish business incubators that would be able to provide services and capital in order to assist women in the start-up period;
  • While developing entrepreneurial training programs, special emphasis should be made on potential women entrepreneurs taking into account their specific needs (such as of housewives, working women with children, students);
  • Lobby the interests of women entrepreneurs at the political level, in the national Parliament, in mass media.

  • Role of business support institutions and NGOs

  • Organize credit fairs in the Azeri regions with special focus on women entrepreneurs; organize meetings/round tables/seminars for representatives of the banks providing credits and women entrepreneurs (proposal by the Association of Commercial Banks);
  • Make special efforts and lobby the reduction of credit rates and allocation of long-term credits (from 6 to 12 months); simplify the system of financial reporting (once in 3 months, by mail);
  • Improve the mortgage system, establishment of a unified (common) taxation system in all regions;
  • Improve the legal status and develop institutional.capacities of women's associations. Their major efforts should be aimed at improving the status and role of women in the economic development of Azerbaijan and changing the societal mentality to reduce the socio-cultural barriers for women entrepreneurship in the country;
  • Women associations should also be involved in providing managerial skills training for women;
  • Networking and information-sharing. Creation of a coordinating network between the organizations dealing with women and WE would promote an exchange of resources, experiences and achievements.

  • International Agencies

  • ILO should continue its support to women entrepreneurship development in Azerbaijan through other projects aimed at creating more decent employment opportunities for women and improving their competitiveness on the labour market;
  • Organization of skills development training for women entrepreneurs in the ILO Training Center in Turin;
  • Further capacity-building of social partners to mainstream gender concerns in their policies and practical work and attract more women to social dialogue and decision-making processes;
  • International organizations, such as ILO, UNDP, UNECE, should establish and increase their contacts with other, organizations and institutions supporting women entrepreneurs, facilitate their exchange of information and create possibilities for collaboration with local organizations;
  • Establishing of micro-financing for women entrepreneurs will encourage more women to enter into business (with the help of international foundations);
  • To ensure sustainability, new projects on developing and improving entrepreneurial education should be designed to provide the development of professional skills and experience, including for women.
  • 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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