Armenia: We have not won poverty but poverty won us

Photo: Agaron Adibekyan (Sociometr)

Armenia adopted the “UN Millennium Declaration” in 2000. It was obvious that the goals cannot be comprehensive, and each country should determine its current problems, especially if the solution is defined by the Constitution and other laws and international obligations. As a result of MDG local adaptation the following goals: “Achieve universal primary education”, “Contribute to gender equality and empowerment of women” were not recognized as the first order priority since the Constitution obliges the state to ensure that all citizens work, have a decent standard of living, access to all levels of education, professional training, health care and healthy living conditions, etc.

However despite these two goals were not emphasized as priority ones some achievements were observed with respect to these spheres.

The programs initiated for eradicating poverty and achieving equality were sentenced to fail, since they are not focused on human being, that is the program results are not tied to improvement of real life of people.

Obviously, the implementation of MDG had sufficient institutional basis, but it still was a challenge not only for the Government, but also for the private sector and civil society. Such differentiation of the Government impact allows us to make exact distinction among shares of the government, private sector and civil society responsibilities in the processes of MDG implementation. The approach is important also in clarifying the extent at which it was possible to provide public participation in implementation of the MDG through providing public awareness and promotion.

Women in decision making. Transition from the Soviet mandate to the Armenian national mandate resulted in steady diminution woman’s role as a leader and in negation of even symbolic equality of soviet system . The Survey on Public Perception on Public Services/MDGs at local level initiated by UNDP, demonstrated that public opinion with respect to women rights prescribes positive trends to individual women’s efforts while negative tendencies to traditional style of society life. On the whole the public opinion reflects lack of capability for all sides to incorporate women’s rights in real life. The state attempts to improve the situation have had no significant results. Gender asymmetry is visible in a political realm even now. The figures provide evidence that women still continue work on subordinate positions as it was in Soviet time. Women are not represented even in local self-government bodies, though they make majority of voters.
To achieve even small results it is urgent that the Government and the Parliament make decision, that a special part “gender equality and extending women’s right “ be envisioned in all programs of power bodies activities.

Despite the fact that Armenia ratified numerous UN conventions and adopted several laws, to guarantee implementation of international obligations taken by the government almost all of them remained on the paper, since there were no mechanisms, resources, money for their implementation. Even parliamentary hearings devoted to ratification of the “Convention on Discrimination against Women” and “Convention on Women’s Political Rights” organized by CDCS jointly with other NGO’s on which it was suggested to develop the action plan, but it remained as wish. It is obvious that international organizations have no effective mechanisms to contribute to realization of obligations that governments had taken. They don’t have any levers to control or anyhow influence on process even when an urgent issues is raised and optimal solutions are suggested. It revealed that interests of local oligarchs dominated over the national priorities.

With respect to poverty, which is a complex issue simultaneous action of the government, social activists and the community are required and small steps towards equality based development of country are preferable.

Source: Social Watch Report 2013, Armenia country report