A women's parliament for Azerbaijan

In Azerbaijan, a transitional society shaped by vast oil and gas resources, UNDEF funds a new project to create the country's first women's parliament. The initiative will serve as tool to give more meaning to women’s rights in Azerbaijan, while strengthening efforts to improve governance in the country as a whole. Two decades after independence, the country faces challenges related to both its post-Soviet legacy and the male-dominated culture of traditional Islam.

Some of the parliament members, with project leader Shahla Ismayil at centre of front row, and UNDEF's Annika Savill third from right in second row.

The project draws on the expertise of women active in all sectors in an effort to move beyond window dressing, while promoting greater transparency and accountability. Implemented by the Azerbaijani Women's Association for Rational Development, the project will address issues of high relevance to Azerbaijani women, ranging from child and maternal mortality to girls' education, support for women entrepreneurs, early marriage, improved housing and the minority rights. The parliament became operational in July following final thematic training sessions throughout June, attended by UNDEF Deputy Executive Head Annika Savill. Members are women leaders from civil society organizations throughout Azerbaijan, as well as prominent individuals in both business and academia.

Group discussions and workshops during training.