Azerbaijan adopts action plan to combat gender-biased sex selection

BAKU, 3 March 2020 – The Azerbaijani government approved the action plan on the prevention of gender-biased sex selection (GBSS) for the period of 2020-2025. The relevant decree to put the plan into the force was signed by the Cabinet of Ministers.

The action plan combines a series of important activities and measures to be implemented over the next five years by local authorities and institutions to address the phenomenon of son preference and promote the value of a girl child.

The analysis of the demographic processes observed in the country during the recent years reveals a persistent prevalence of boys among newborns resulting in a skewed sex ratio at birth of 1.14 (114 boys born for every 100 girls) which considerably exceeds the biological norm – 1.05/1.07 (105-107 boys per 100 newly-born girls). At the same time, findings show that as mothers become more aged, families are more inclined towards son preference, which also increases the share of boys in the structure of newborn babies. Such a situation is explained with gender-biased decisions and measures (such as sex-selective abortions) undertaken by parents with regard to the selection of sex of a child to be born. It is noteworthy that sex imbalance at birth is more often practiced by low-income households and mainly observed in rural territories of the country.

The action plan is assumed to play a vital role in the elimination of these imbalances in the population sex ratio in Azerbaijan. According to the document, measures to be implemented will ensure accessible and reliable data on newborns’ sex ratio and improving relevant legislative framework, enhance support measures for women and girls to eliminate gender-based discrimination and inequality, strengthen advocacy and awareness-raising efforts to dismantle gender stereotypes as well as reinforce inter-organizational cooperation to achieve the objectives set forth in the plan.

Throughout the preparation of the action plan, UNFPA has provided substantial support to the government of Azerbaijan – a team of local and international experts created by the Fund has taken active part in drafting the document in close collaboration with the government. The next five years of its implementation are expected to be a term of significant improvements in the sphere of prevention harmful practice of GBSS in Azerbaijan.

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