Decree on the Implementation of the State Policy on Women in the Republic of Azerbaijan - Baku, March 6, 2000

The Azerbaijani women, with their will, purity and devotion have always played an important role in our society and in the formation of our moral values. Our folklore has many positive female characters.

The female characters of the epos of "Kitabi-Dede Korkut", the foundation of our moral values, is still contributing to the universal values. Our poets praised women as the source of life and symbol of wisdom. Our great poet Nizami created such female characters as Mehinbanu, Nushabe, Fitna and the seven princesses. The Momina Khatun tomb erected by the prominent architect Adjami proves the respect of our people to women.

The activity of the medieval women of Azerbaijan maintained and enrichened our national traditions. The poems by prominent poetess of the 12th century Mehseti Ganjavi won recognition abroad.

Gizil Arslan`s wife Gatiba khanum, Ozbek khan`s wife Mehrjan khanum, Uzun Hasan`s mother Sara Khatun, Shah Ismail Khatai`s daughter Mehinbanu, Shirvanshah Khalilullah`s wife Pari khanum, Shah Abbas` mother Kheyransa Beyim, legendary Tutu Bike are among the prominent stateswmen of the medieval Azerbaijan.

The 19th century is characterizing by the activity and successes of women in Azerbaijan. Activity of Khurshudbanu Natavan, Aga Beyim Aga Agabadi, Gonchabeyim, Fatma khanum Kemine, Shahnigar khanum, Gamarbayim Sheyda Garabagi are much remarkable. The political, economic and cultural processes ongoing in Azerbaijan in the 19th century gave an incentive to the women become literate and take an active part in the public life.

Establishment of the secular theatre, democratic press, schools, especially schools for females opened new opportunities for the development of the Azerbaijani women. Charity was also popular then along enlightenment. Charitable societies established by Govhar khanum Gajar, Hamida khanum Javanshir, Nigar khanum Shikhlinskaya, Masma khanum Talishinskaya, Saltanat khanum Ahmedova played a prominent role in the public life. One of the charitable actions of that time was the establishment of Tazapir Mosque by Nabat khanum Ashurbeyli Rzayeva. Consequently, women gained the suffrage for the first time in our history.

Establishment of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918 allowed our women become active members of democratic society. The Azerbaijani women gained a lot of achievements, became equal with men during the Soviet regime.

The first assembly of the Azerbaijani women was held in 1921. The main idea of that assembly was the freedom of women. Afterwards, a lot was done to encourage women become literate and take an active part in public life. The Institute of Pre-school education for Women established in 1921 turned into the Female Teacher-training Institute a year later. In 1923 a journal "Sharg gadini" ("Oriental Woman") started to be published, it became a remarkable event in the women movement in Azerbaijan.

The Second World War urged women to get into labor more widely. Men left for the war, women substituted them. A lot of women, such as pilots Leyla Mamedbeyova, Zuleykha Seyidmamedova, Sona Nuriyeva, ship captain Shovkat Salimova demonstrated courage in the war. These are the bright pages of Azerbaijan connected with women.

The achievements of the Azerbaijani women during the Soviet time prove their talent and industriousness. Actresses Merziye Davudova, Fatma Gadri, Hokume Gurbanova, Munevver Kalantarli, Barat Shekinskaya, Leyla Bedirbeyli, Nasiba Zeynalova, Shafiga Mamedova, Amalia Panahova, ballet stars Gamar Almas-zade, Leyla Vekilova, Rafiga Akhundova, popular singers Shovkat Mamedova, Hagigat Rzayeva, Shovkat Alekperova, Sara Gadimova, Rubaba Muradova, Fatma Mehraliyeva, Tukezban Ismailova, Zeynab Khanlarova, prominent composers Agabadji Rzayeva, Shafiga Akhundova, Firangiz Ali-zade, great paitners Vajiha Samedova, Reyhan Topchubashova, Gullu Mustafayeva, Elmira Shahtakhtinskaya, Maral Rahman-zade contributed to the development of our national culture.

Our women-of-letters such as Nigar Rafibeyli, Mirvarid Dilbazi, Madina Gulgun, Hokuma Bulluri, Aziza Jafar-zade, Khanumana Alibeyli contributed to the development of the Azerbaijani literature. The assemblies of women held in 1957, 1967, and 1972 played an important role in the further development of the women`s movement in Azerbaijan.

Throughout the 20th century the Azerbaijani women achieved a lot. Serious transformations took place in women`s position in socity and family. Despite the achievements, the Soviet stereotypes did not take into consideration the traditional values.

The Azerbaijani women took an active part in the movement of independence. They participated in the complicated processes ongoing in the republic in 1988. Among the victims of the tragedy of 20 January there were women. Reporter Salatin Askerova and doctor Gultakin Askerova are the national heroes of Azerbaijan. There are a lot of women among the refugees who had left their homes because of the Armenian occupation. The main problems resulting from of the war dropped on the shoulders of women mostly.. The Azerbaijani women, however, have always supported peace.

The first Constitution of Azerbaijan adopted in 1995 confirmed the equal right of men and women and created a legal basis for the active participation of women in public life. Democratization helped the establishment of many women`s organizations. The major goals of those organizations are the improvement of the conditions of women, solution of their problems.

More women organizations are being created, the current ones are expanding their networks. During the preparation period of the Sixth World Conference of women held in Beijing in 1995 the National Committee of women of Azerbaijan submitted a report to the conference.

After the conference national conferences were held. On June 30, 1995, Azerbaijan joined the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and took respective obligations.

Since the Beijing Conference a lot of work for the implementation of the principles and recommendations noted on its documents has been done and reports have been submitted to the UN agencies.

In order to implement the state policy on women, the State Committee on the Problems of women was established with to the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on January 14, 1998.

The statistics show that among 80 heads of executive power of cities and districts there are only 5 women, and the number of women in governmental bodies is very low.

Legislative acts, decisions and resolutions adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers, by governmental bodies of various levels do not take into account to gender requirements and do not undergo expertise.

Since Azerbaijan regained its independence, women have been assigned new tasks. The establishment of market economy, formation of civil society, reforms demand the increase of the role of women in society. However, the equal rights determined for women are not realized because of lack of equal rights in reality.

The necessity of solution of the problems of women was emphasized in the first assembly of the women of Azerbaijan held on September 25, 1998. That conference demonstrated that a lot has to be done to increase the rules of women in society.

In order to ensure equal rights for women with men, particularly representation of women in legislation, I resolve:

1. Equal representation of women with men in the administration must be ensured by taking into consideration the activity of all the governmental bodies of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

2. The State Statistics Committee together with the State Committee on Women`s Problems shall prepare statistical information on the situation of women in the republic.

3. The Cabinet of Ministers is charged:

- to ensure equal opportunities both for men and women according to the gender policy within the economic reforms;

- to prepare and implement into life a program on the employment of refugees and internally displaced people;

- to analyze the current legislation and submit proposals on changes and amendments to the laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan in order to strengthen the defence of women.

- to report the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the implementation of the decree until March 1;

- to solve issues deriving from This Decree.

Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.