Nowadays, we often come across the term gender equality. Gender equality has always been one of the main concerns of the EU. Over the past decades, this issue has become of great importance, and new approaches have been and continue to be elaborated.
Since women are mostly underrepresented in society, the most effective way to bridge the gender gap is to empower women by different means. Women’s empowerment is another term which is closely related to gender equality. It means giving women the power to realise their full potential in whatever field they want. It can be achieved through equal access of women to education and employment opportunities.
But what are the reasons behind the significance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in modern societies?
First of all, women’s empowerment is vital for the realisation of human rights for all. Irrespective of our gender, we are all humans, and the infringement of our rights, be it women or men, is out of the question. We all know that respect for human rights is the core of democracy. Consequently, it means that gender equality is essential for the long-term democratic development and prosperity of countries.
Moreover, females represent half of the world’s population and half of its potential as well. According to studies, increasing women’s participation in the labour market results in countries’ economic growth, which, in turn, is a positive tendency. To get a clearer idea, let’s compare a family with only a man working and another one with both the woman and the man being employed. Of course, the family with more income will have a better standard of living, which will have a positive impact on the overall economic situation in the country. For these reasons, women’s empowerment should be our top priority.
EU initiatives for women in Azerbaijan.
As I mentioned, the gender gap remains high in the labour market. Women are mainly underrepresented in such spheres as business, STEM, politics, etc. A number of EU-funded projects are being implemented in Azerbaijan in order to minimise the gender gap in workplaces and encourage Azerbaijani women to pursue their dream careers.
The Women in Business programme is one of the EU opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Azerbaijan. Implemented by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), this programme includes business advice, training and mentoring to women-led companies. Within this project, a lot of Azerbaijani women have benefitted from consultancy services and got a chance to start their own businesses and become financially independent.
The first-ever “Gender Equality” hackathon funded by the European Union and implemented jointly by UN Women and UNFPA took place in Azerbaijan on 19-21 February 2021. Throughout the Hackathon, 16 teams with 64 participants overall tried to find solutions to gender-related issues, such as combating violence against women, addressing son preference and undervaluing of girls, eliminating gender stereotypes in career choices, and ensuring gender equality in domestic chores.
And another great initiative supported by the European Union is the Women in International Security for Eastern Partnership project (WISEP). The main objective of this project, which was organised in 2022, was to unite and empower women from Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries through the development and enhancement of their own leadership skills. It played a crucial role in strengthening the position of women in international security and politics. Women from EaP countries got a source of inspiration to start running their own projects in their own countries.
In conclusion, all these opportunities are aimed at eliminating gender-based stereotypes and encouraging women to grow as future professionals. This way, it will be possible for all women to contribute to changes in their communities, occupy a worthy place in society, and make their voices heard. The more women will thrive, the better the future of our planet will be!
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