TODAY.AZ / Society

It is hard for woman in Azerbaijan to find a job

29 April 2005 [15:09] - TODAY.AZ
Ruhiya returned home late and was pretty tired. She had been looking for work all day.
Shortly after graduating from the higher institute, she got married. As the fates decree, she found herself alone at 38, a widow and having to support her two children, who were of school age. The responsibility of bread-winner fell to her.

Her diploma, qualifying her as a maths teacher, became obselete as did her communication skills with children after a lapse of 17 years. However, she continued to educate her own children.

One day Ruhiya took a risk. She went with her diploma and inquired after a job from the principal of neighborhood school. Though the wage of Azerbaijan teachers is low, nevertheless this is a respected profession. But the $600 bribe, which the director asked for the position, made Ruhiya change her mind and she joined the national labour market as a jobseeker.

"Times were really hard" Ruhiya says, when she was confronted with the hard reality of employment market. "As I didn't speak English and I had no computer skills, me being a person with higher education I only managed to find a job as a sales assistant in an ordinary grocery, or waitress at one of numerous snack bars. As I wasn't young I didn't manage to find a better job."

According to the Azerbaijan's State Statistic Committee, half the unemployed Azerbaijan population is women. Among official unemployed people, 52,4% are women. There are qualitative differences between male and female employment in the republic. Men find jobs relatively quickly, due to their high labor mobility. Rather than using employment services, they prefer finding work independently. That's why most registered people in employment services are women. After being forced out of the State enterprises as a rule, they do not return. Women either stop their looking for work and move to housekeeping, or find casual labour.

"The position of women in recent years was weakened in practically all areas of public production" says Chingiz Tagiyev, the head of the department for the protection of labour and the economical interests of workers of the Confederation of Azerbaijani trade unions. The rates of general and women's employment decreased in industry and agriculture, as a result of the total recession and the broadening gap of women's and men's wages. There was an economic shedding of the less competitive, less qualified work force. As a rule, women working in industry are referred to as employees of low and middle qualification.

Employment in human services - housing and communal services, health, education, science, culture and art - remained static. The increase in the number of women in this area was a result of men leaving it for more profitable areas. Only 30 percent of men work as teachers and doctors, 30 percent of women work in institutions of state management and defence, 40 percent of women work in the hotel and restaurant business. Women have traditionally been well-represented in transport communication, finances and loan, trade. However, their numbers have decreased because of the number of men coming into this area. Women's share in the area of transport, communication and agriculture is 20%.

Women are moved away from the area of highly qualified areas such as labour- management, information technology and electronics. At the moment, even in successful enterprises women are stuck in undemanding jobs such as secretaries.

Men on the other hand, are in positions requiring a high level of general and professional education, such as managers, programmers and experts. Few women are in decision-making positions, even in businesses where the majority of employees are women. For example, there are only three women among Azerbajan's 66 executive directors.

"It is more difficult for woman to find a job. After she loses her job for some reason, she is less likely to be re-employed. That's why women stick at their existing job and concede to all sorts of demands - to work shorter hours, to take their holiday when they're told to by the administration, to be paid less," says Suraya Hasanova, a psychologist on women's issues. As a rule, women of the same age and education as men will fill less prestigious and lower paid positions. However this differentiation is being smoothed out in some companies. A man and a woman in the same company and with the same position are paid almost the same salary. Nevertheless, the average salary of women in Azerbaijan is about 15%-20% than that of men.

Speaking about women's problems, the chief psychiatrist of Azerbaijan, professor Agabek Sultanov indicates: "It is evident for everyone, that it is more difficult for woman to find work, as problems may arise with their children, or she may get ill or go on maternity leave, which makes her an unsuitable employee. Women are suffering from neurosis because they find it impossible to find highly paid work and are put under financial strain.

Periods of unemployment for women are getting longer. According to the State Employment service, it takes unemployed women a month longer to find work than unemployed men. The number of woman who have been out of work for more than eight months is 2/3, and more than 73% of women have been looking for work for more than a year. These women gradually lose their professional skills and, as a result, society suffers, and in future will have to spend significant amount of additional money on retraining and requalifying the unemployed. In the last 18 months, 1697 women were retrained, at the request of employers.

Female employment in Azerbaijan also has geographic differences. More are employed in cities than in the agricultural regions. This is because of the larger number of children in rural areas, the lack of organised pre-school childcare, the absence of job vacancies, and the social stereo types of prevailing of men's labor over women's labor.

Increasing numbers of rural citizens are leaving for the big cities, particularly Baku. This means that women are becoming involved in untraditional work, as unskilled labourers or market traders. One may frequently see women selling food and vegetables in the streets of the city. While selling goods on lower price, they compensate losses by means of cheating clients in weighing. Some customers noticed that these market-women have two scales for weighing one is precise scale for herself and second scale is with distorted indications, purposed for cheating client. "Thus, we earn our living for our children", one of them- from Lenkoran region says. And their husbands, in their turn, are mostly on construction sites. The elderly take care of the children, and sometimes children stay in the region without parental care and education.

Like the men, women regularly fly to the states of Near and Far abroad, and in recent times, more of them are doing this than the men. Women are successful at working in the informal sector. Medium paid job - tutorship, private lessons, tailoring - are mostly carried out by women. For low paid work, such as taking care of children and the sick, cleaning flats and offices or cooking, mostly female labour is used. (Trend)

Women have always occupied a special place in social life of Azerbaijanis. Traditionally, women were veiled, nevertheless society was respectful to them. Women gained legal equality during the Soviet period. However Soviet realism distorted the main idea of female equality, that is participating equally with men in society, in decision-making and free self-expression. Despite on development of the legal basis of equality and presentation of social privileges to women, the social regime maintained men in the leading role on all issues.

An imbalance formed between the legal and real situation, and as a result, double standard and double exploitation of women doing common work and in the family was created. The political, economic and social crisis and military intervention changed the situation during the post-Soviet period of democratization, and at the same time led to the decomposition of all areas in the state. Women's illusions of social equality disappeared. Finding work was increasingly difficult. All her efforts now centre around the family and home. At the moment, the women of Azerbaijan are losing their former achievements and reducing their chances of progress.

Woman in Azerbaijan are treated as a special minority rather than half the Earth's population.

P.S. Recently Ruhiya found a job as a cleaner with a foreign company. She won her long and painful fight, has maintained her dignity and has secured a job with a monthly salary of $150.

URL: http://www.today.az/news/society/19177.html

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