Maternity Protection and Childcare Systems in the Republic of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan has ratified all major UN treaties on human rights, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW), its Optional Protocol, and the core ILO Conventions in the area of non-discrimination, maternity protection and work-family reconciliation (ILO Conventions 100, 111, 183 and 156).
The Constitution as well as labour, family and civil laws and regulations in the fields of health and socio-economic policy form an encompassing legal framework for maternity protection and for the equal treatment of women and men. Azerbaijan was one of the first CIS countries to adopt a specific law on “State guarantees for gender (women and men) equality” in 2006, providing a legal framework for the equal rights of women and men in political, economic, social, cultural and other areas, as well as defining the role and powers of state institutions in this respect.
The State has expressed its commitment to improving social security and maternity protection, reducing infant and maternal mortality and strengthening targeted social assistance to low-income families with children in a number of programmes and policy concepts. The National Action Plan for Gender Equality and the “Strategy of Azerbaijan family”, two core strategies in the field, still await finalization, however.
Maternity protection policy is framed by gendered social norms and traditions. Gendered assumptions are also visible in the fact that, implicitly and explicitly, women continue to be regarded the “weaker” sex in need of social protection. A range of occupations are, by law, prohibited for women. Labour legislation contains numerous provisions and benefits that are addressed at women and at mothers. A discussion about possible differences between provisions that have to be addressed at mothers because of their reproductive and health situation, and other benefits and provisions that could be gender neutral and
promote the reconciliation of employment and family life for all working parents, women and men, has only just started in the country, and awareness of the differences is not widespread. Currently, maternity protection is not equally well implemented throughout all sectors of the labour market. However, there are no comprehensive and comparable statistics to assess the extent of implementation and to access gaps. The involvement and collaboration of state bodies, trade unions, employers’ organisations and non-governmental organisations in promoting maternity protection is still limited. The current report presents the main issues for consideration and presents available evidence. It highlights the importance of clear definitions of discrimination and the use thereof in policy and programmes. It also points out the importance of clearly defined responsibility for implementation and monitoring of existing legislation and protective provisions, and the importance of social dialogue in effectively promoting maternity protection.