Equal rights for women

INTRODUCTION

Equal rights for women have a long history in Armenian society. Women's rights were protected by many ancient Armenian legal codes and constitutions.These have included ancient provisions against domestic violence, rules against forced marriages and the promotion of equitable division of property. In addition, women have been political and military leaders throughout Armenian history. In 1918,Armenian women were members of the national parliament-at a time when women in the United States still did not have the right to vote. While Armenian women today are largely accorded equal legal rights with men, their de facto status is quite different. Armenia acceded to the U.N.Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW)without reservation. CEDAW espouses values and legal obligations for women's human rights which, due to the treaty's widespread adoption around the world, have become universal. They are not typical to the customs,traditions or values of any particular set of countries ,but instead are basic tenets of equality which have been adopted by the world community. Convention includes political representation, education,health care,economic rights,rural women's concerns ,employment, and marriage/family relations. Many of the subjects addressed by the treaty are areas of concern for both men and women in Armenia. It should be noted that focusing attention on compliance with CEDAW and women's human rights does not mean that men also suffer from the failure of the Armenian health care system or they are not also entitled to preserve their posts.Most of the areas of concern which are elaborated on in this report would,if addressed ,improve the quality of life of all people in Armenia. By acceding to the Convention without reservation, we have voluntarily obligated to comply with all of the requirements and initiatives which CEDAW imposes on States Parties. These include not only measures to eliminate and prevent discrimination, but also proactive measures designed to promote equality between men and women and to change the culture of gender in signatory states.The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was established under Article 17 0f the CEDAW.The Committee includes 23 experts on women's issues from around the world.The Committee's mandate is very specific: it watches over the progress for women made in those countries that are the States parties to the 1979 CEDAW.The Committee monitors the implementation of national measures to fulfil the obligation to counteract discrimination against women.The written dialogue between the Committee and Armenia mentioned that although the responses of Armenia were sometimes defensive although often detailed,the dialogue can be estimated as overall constructive.Several positive developments can be highlighted.In its concluding observations the Committee commended Armenia for acceding to the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW,on revisions made to the Constitution,the establishment of the Human Rights Defender for Armenia,the national ombudsmen,in 2004 and the adoption of a series of national plans and programmes,particularly to combat human exploitation.Also several issues were raised and reflected in the Committee's recommendations,including the weak visibility of the Convention in the country,the need for an adequate structure of a national machinery for the advancement of women,underrepresentation of women in political and public spheres,trafficking,and also the unequal minimum age of marriage for boys and girls,the lack of consideration for vulnerable groups of women and the feminisation of poverty. According to the CEDAW and the CEDAW Committee: for the purposes of the present Convention, the term «discrimination against women» shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition,enjoyment or exercise by women,irrespective of their marital status,on a basis of equality of men and women,of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political,economic,social,cultural,civil or any other field(Article 1). [1] 

MAIN BODY

The equality of rights of women is proclaimed directly in Articles 3,4,15 and 16 of the Constitution [2] and indirectly in a number of other articles. Legislative acts of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia do not contain a clear-cut definition of the term ''discrimination against women'', that Armenia does not have special institutions for the protection of the rights of women, that women are not sufficiently involved in public life,and that the rate of unemployment among women is 67 per cent. According to the CEDAW:States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and, to this end. undertake: a)to embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions or other appropriate legislation if not yet incorporated therein and to ensure, through law and other appropriate means, the practical realization of this principle and etc.(Article 2). [3] .Equality Now is concerned about the lack of access to contraception and family planning services,low levels of political participation, discrimination in employment ,the failure to recognize the degree of violence against women, discriminatory laws and and the failure to enforce other laws,which hinders Armenia to execute its obligation to respect women's rights pursuant to the Covenant.

Armenians are free to chose any profession.’'Article 29 [4] of the Armenian Constitution grants every citizen the right to free choice of employment .However, according to the ARWC there are violations of women's rights to work in all areas of the economy and discrimination against women in hiring practices. Articles 3 and 26 of the Covenant [5] as well as Article 29 of the Constitution ,which provides that every citizen has the right to free choice of employment and the right to a just wage. Articles 10 and 11 of the CEDAW Convention [6] stipulates that ''States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure them equal rights with men in the field of education and in particular to ensure the equality of men and women(Art.10):

a)the same conditions apply for career and vocational guidance,for access to studies and for the achievement of diplomas in educational establishments of all categories in rural as well as in urban areas; this equality shall be ensured in pre-school ,general, technical, professional and higher technical education, as well as in all types of vocational training;

b)access to the same curricula, examinations, teaching staff with qualifications of the same standard and school premises equipment of the same quality;

c)the elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other types of education which will help to achieve this aim and, in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programmes and the adaptation of teaching methods;

Article 11-States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

a)the right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings;

b)the right to the same employment opportunities, including the application of the same criteria for selection in matters of employment,

c)the right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of service and the right to receive vocational training and retraining, including apprenticeships, advanced vocational training and recurrent training and etc.

The CEDAW stipulates that States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning(Article 12). [7] 

States parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

a) the same right to enter into marriage,

b) the same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent. [8] 

CONCLUSION

In my opinion joining CEDAW Armenia took a decisive step in its legal system, because it provided the RoA with possibilities to make some changes in its legislation and conform(appropriate) it with the international law. The CEDAW and the CEDAW Committee fostered the fight against discrimination in our country, led to the creation of better conditions for women in various areas, I n particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, and undertake all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men.