Ghulam M. Isaczai's speech at the SDGs Panel Discussion on "Women and Development"

It is really my pleasure to join this group of distinguished panellists under the leadership of Mr. Ali Ahmadov to talk about the Sustainable Development Goals, Gender Equality and Women empowerment.

This is a topic that is very close to our heart and UN mandate and is of equal importance to Azerbaijan.

Let me also say that I find it a little hard to talk about gender and women’s issue in front of two leading experts and successful women such as Hijran Khanum and Bahar Khanum who embody women’s empower in Azerbaijan.

But allow me to make a few points about this very important issue anyways.

Globally, we continue to witness stark gender disparities in economic, social and political areas.

On average, women still earn 24 per cent less than men in the labour market. Women are only half as likely as men to have full-time jobs.

Women are over-represented in vulnerable and informal work, often without social protection.

Women are under-represented in Parliaments and decision-making positions in public and corporate sectors.

There are still countries where gender discrimination is part of legal and social norms, and where women do not have the right to divorce, inherit property, own or rent land, or access credit,  which is putting huge constraint on women’s economic empowerment.

Azerbaijan has made good progress towards gender equality and some of which has historical roots.

Azerbaijan was the first Muslim Majority Country to enfranchise women when it introduced Universal suffrage in 1918.

The first secular girls’ school and the first of such kind in the Russian Empire was opened in Baku in 1901.

The country has a well-developed legislative base for protection of women’s rights.

The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees its citizens gender equality and freedom from all kinds of discrimination in all spheres of life.

National legislation stipulates equal rights of men and women to engage in all types of economic activity, inherit, own and sell property, receive bank loans and travel in and out of the country.

Azerbaijan also joined major international conventions on women’s rights – the CEDAW Convention.

Despite considerable progress, challenges remain. Women are under represented in leadership positions and decision-making level both in Government and the private sector. Women are disproportionately represented in informal sector and low paid jobs.

There is a great deal of gender stereotypes and discrimination that often leads to violence against women.

We believe the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly is an effective way to address gender issues and ensure women’s effective participation in all the three dimensions of development.

The Goals urges that no one be left behind. This means leaving no woman behind – anywhere.

Gender equality is the focus of the SDG 5 and is integrated in the other goals, with many targets specifically recognizing women’s equality and empowerment as both the objective, and as part of the solution.

This reflects the growing consensus that gender equality is a driver of progress across all development goals.

Last week the Government of Azerbaijan received a high level UN mission on SDGs to help align the national development strategies and plans with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The mission met a wide range of government and non-governmental partners, donors and private sector, and all of them emphasized centrality of gender issues for the achievement of the SDGs.

Women participation was recognized as an accelerator of the SDG progress in all areas ranging from gender-disaggregated statistics to promoting women in decision- making.

We are pleased to see that one of main messages of Azerbaijan’s Voluntary National Report to the High Level Political Forum emphasizes gender equality as part of the national SDG agenda.

UNDP and UN will continue to work our Government, civil society and other partners to remove any barriers to gender equality.

Thank you.

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