A National Action Plan on Elimination of Gender-based Sex Selection will be prepared with the cooperation of the Azerbaijani government and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Hijran Huseynova, chairperson of Azerbaijan’s State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs, told Trend. According to Huseynova, the UNFPA invited Research Professor at the Maryland Population Research Center (US) Ms. Monica Das Gupta in December 2017 in connection with the preparation of the National Action Plan.
"Ms. Gupta held meetings with representatives of a number of state and non-governmental organizations. A preliminary document was sent to the state bodies in the first half of 2018. In October 2018, the document was presented with the participation of representatives of the relevant state bodies, MPs, non-governmental organizations and well-known experts, and relevant discussions were held. Currently, the document is being finalized, and the National Action Plan is expected to be adopted this year," she said.
The chairperson added that one of the most pressing problems in a number of countries is the gender-based sex selection. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan is no exception. Over the past 20 years, the number of men has increased rapidly, and the proportion of the population is almost equal.
"Currently, 49.9% of the population is male and 50.1% is female. It is important to carry out wide-scale awareness raising campaigns and develop health services to address the problem. It is essential to enlighten women on many issues (family planning, pregnancy prevention, artificial insemination, protection of reproductive health, gender-based sex selection, etc.), especially in rural areas," noted Huseynova.
We talked to experts about the reasons for the breach of sex ratio and what measures are envisaged in the action plan.
Sociologist Javid Imamoglu said that in recent years, the generation rate has declined. "One of the factors that has led to the breach of sex ratio in Azerbaijan is the selective abortion. Compared to 1961, the ratio of women giving birth has dropped from 5.6 to 2.1 since 2010. In 2018 this figure was 1.9. The decline of the generation rate and unawareness of families on pregnancy planning lead to undesirable pregnancies abortion. Also, today families do not prefer more than two children. In this case, if the first child is a girl, families want the other to be a boy.
But if the second child is also a girl, they have abortion. Thus, the decline in the overall generation rate slightly accelerated the process of breach of sex ratio," he said.
"Dual attitude towards women in the society, role of boys in the procreation, material difficulties in raising girls lead to the gender discrimination. Among the listed reasons, the most important is the idea of continuing the generation. Early detection of the fetus’ gender thanks to the development of technology, leads to abortions. Consequently, gender balance is broken,” the sociologist noted.
Imamoglu also spoke about the problems that arose as a result of the breach of sex ratio. "As a result, complications such as early marriages, gender inequality in society, and human trafficking may occur. A number of steps are taken to prevent them. Thus, amendments are prepared to the law on the gender detection of fetus. In 2019, it is expected to adopt a law on reproductive health, which prohibits gender detection of fetus and selective abortion in general. Abortion will only be possible if certain illness is detected. Also, incentive programs should be developed so that families do not hesitate to give a birth to children. On the other hand, propaganda and agitation should be carried out to eliminate the existing stereotypes about girls," he added.
Head of the Gender Center of the National NGO Foundation, Chairperson of the Women and Young Families Social Development Public Union Tunzala Javadova noted that breach of sex ratio is currently a topical problem in some countries. "First of all it is necessary to reveal the causes of the gender violation when preparing the Action Plan. Breach of sex ratio may lead to the increase of violence and gender inequality. The most important work to be done to address such problems is the development of awareness and health services. In addition, wide opportunities should be created for the participation of women in different areas of society. Most importantly, women's economic dependence should be reduced, and women should be given higher job positions. If such issues are resolved, the breach of sex ratio will also be eliminated. In particular, awareness raising activities on protection of reproductive health and gender equality are essential in remote areas. Currently, measures are being carried out to ensure gender equality at the state level. Today, the growing role of women in the labor market is evident," Javadova said.