The Status of Women in Azerbaijan and Lithuania: The Aspect of Gender Equality

Svajonė Mikėnė

Abstract


The aim of this article is to analyse and to compare the present situation of women in Azerbaijan and Lithuania in the most important spheres of societal life: politics, education, and labour market. The article reviews legal means, ensuring gender equality de jure, statistical data and societal attitudes’ surveys. The choice of countries is based on a few criteria: 1) joint experience of the Soviet era and the levelling impact of Soviet policy, ideology; 2) the same duration of the transition period which is characterised by the same peculiarities: shift from a totalitarian system to democratic regime, from centralized to market economy, from strictly regulated norms of freedom to consolidation of human rights (including gender equality); 3) the same meaning of gender equality as an inseparable part of human rights; 4) ten years of both countries actively cooperating in politics, economics, education, which, hopefully, will have a positive impact on embodying gender equality policy in Azerbaijan. However, it should be mentioned, that all countries of the post-soviet bloc have social, economic, cultural, religious differences, therefore one cannot eliminate the influence of cultural traditions and norms for the status of women in the two countries.
The results of the research show that political participation of women in both analysed countries is relatively low due to social attitudes and difficulties experienced in reconciling political activities with family life and lack of education. Participation of women in the labour market in both countries is characterised by high level of employment and deep horizontal professional segregation. The high level of employment of women is partially related to the necessity determined by the economical situation to contribute to the family’s maintenance. Though, for Lithuanian women jobs are also a sphere of self-realization, but the family is a smaller obstacle for participation in the labour market and for making a professional career. In Lithuania professional segregation is much lower. The article comes to the conclusion that existing differences of the status of gender in both countries are related to the influence of patriarchal attitudes, still prevailing gender role stereotypes and practical problems of reconciling work and family life. The better status of Lithuanian women in all the analysed spheres, first of all, is related to the weaker expression of the above-mentioned attitudes and stereotypes. The investigation shows that the main obstacles which impede implementation of gender equality in practice lie in Islamic cultural traditions, which are more favourable for the prevalence of patriarchal attitudes. In order to improve the status of women, it is suggested that more attention be given to education on gender equality and to special means applied at the national level, inducing equal opportunities for both genders.

Keywords


gender equality; women participation in politics; education; labour market; patriarchal attitudes; Lithuania; Azerbaijan

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236