UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam M. Isaczai’s speech at the launch of Gender Assessment Report “Women in private sector in Azerbaijan, Challenges and Opportunities”

Dear Ms. Hijran Huseynova, Chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs,

H.E. Mr. Philipp Stalder, Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation in the Republic of Azerbaijan,

UN colleagues, members of the diplomatic corps,

Representatives of Azerbaijan’s diverse and highly competitive business community,


Khanimlar ve janablar, xosh gorduk! (Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome!)


I would like to welcome you all at the launch of the Gender Assessment Report “Women in private sector in Azerbaijan, Challenges and Opportunities” today and thank you all for coming to show your support and interest in this subject.

This assessment is unique and ground breaking as it targets the private sector whereas our focus in the past has always been on the government.

Therefore, we cannot overstate the importance of private sector engagement in advancing gender equality in the workplace.

UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres has said that Economic empowerment is a necessary condition to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

How companies do business, and to what extent they ensure that both men and women can contribute and benefit equally, will have a huge impact on whether or not the SDGs will be achieved.

By making gender equality central to its business practices, the private sector can be a driver of progress that benefits all. Women’s economic empowerment offers tremendous benefits to the companies that embrace it.

The private sector can be an important partner in women’s economic empowerment movement.

As the United Nations, we take special pride in promoting women’s economic rights.

We always say that ‘Empowering women economically is not only the “right thing” to do to honour the world’s commitments to human rights but it is also the “smart thing” to do for development, economic growth, financial prosperity and business’.

“Studies show that, if women were able to participate equally in the economy, global GDP could increase by 26 per cent – the equivalent of $12 trillion dollars – by 2025,” but unfortunately only 50 per cent of women of working age, worldwide are in the labour force – compared to 77 per cent of men. In addition, women tend to be concentrated in informal and precarious employment, and they are paid on average 23 per cent less than men and carry out at least 2.5 times more unpaid household and care work.

In Azerbaijan, UNDP is working closely with its sister organisations within the UN family as well as the Government and international donors, including the EU, USAID, Coca-Cola Foundation and the Swiss Cooperation Office, to tackle these issues and provide new opportunities to women.

In rural communities, we help women gain access to resources, which were unavailable to them before, establish businesses of their own they couldn’t even dream about before and become financially independent, against all odds.

Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the role of various organisations and individuals and thank them for their hard work, dedication and diligence, which made this assessment as well as today’s event a reality.

My sincere gratitude goes to the Swiss Development Cooperation and the Embassy of Switzerland for shouldering the bulk of funding for this study and their guidance and support throughout the study.

We had the team of local experts at a prominent national NGO – the Women Association for Rational Development which helped with the data collection process in the field.

I would also like to thank UNDP and UNFPA for leading the Gender Assessment mission and for complementing Swiss contribution with additional financial support for the study.

From the Government side, our trusted partner and a longstanding supporter of all our projects gender related, the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs has played an enormous role in providing the overall support to the mission and ensuring smooth field work operations both in Baku and in the regions.

Special thanks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Azerbaijan for supporting today’s launch event as the information partner for the private sector.

Last but not least, I would like to acknowledge the expert advice and keen analyses brought to us by the author of the report – Dr. Aysel Vazirova, who has also joined us today and will present the findings of the study shortly after my remarks.

Thank you! Diqqetiniz uchun teshekkur edirem!

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