Women in Azerbaijan Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Azerbaijan

Women in Azerbaijan
Azad Qadın heykəli - panoramio.jpg
General Statistics
Maternal mortality (per 100,000)26 (2017)
Women in parliament17.3% (2020)
Women over 25 with secondary education90.0% (2010)
Women in labour force63.3% (2019)
Gender Inequality Index[1]
Value0.323 (2019)
Rank73rd out of 162
Global Gender Gap Index[2]
Value0.688 (2021)
Rank100th out of 156

Women in Azerbaijan nominally enjoy the same legal rights as men; however, societal discrimination remains a problem.[3]

Voting rights[edit]

Universal suffrage was introduced in Azerbaijan in 1919 by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, thus making Azerbaijan the first Muslim-majority country ever to enfranchise women.[4]

Political representation[edit]

The State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs of Azerbaijan Republic is the primary government agency overlooking the activities in protection of rights of women in the country. There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women in politics. As of 2020, there were 22 women in the 125-seat parliament, including the Speaker of the National Assembly. The percentage of female members of parliament increased from 11 to 17.6 percent between 2005 and 2020.[5]

In 2017, Mehriban Aliyeva (the president's wife) was appointed Vice President of Azerbaijan, the highest position a woman has occupied in Azerbaijan since the abolition in 1994 of the office of Secretary of State most recently occupied by Lala Shovkat.

In 2020, Sahiba Gafarova was appointed the Speaker of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan. As of the same year, Azerbaijan had one female cabinet minister (Mahabbat Valiyeva, Minister of Education), one regional cabinet minister (Natavan Gadimova, Minister of Culture of the Nakhchivan AR),[6] one state committee chair (Bahar Muradova, chair of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs), one head of a regional executive government (Irada Gulmammadova, head of the Absheron District),[7] Commissioner for Human Rights (Sabina Aliyeva), three ambassadors and one head of a diplomatic office.[8] Women constituted 3 of the 16 members of the Central Election Commission[9] and chaired of 4 of the 125 district election commissions.[10] Despite the fact that as of 2016, 11% of the country's professional judges were women (including Sona Salmanova, Deputy Chair of the Constitutional Court),[11] this remains the lowest proportion in Europe.[12]

In May 2021, Amnesty International published a briefing on gender-based reprisals against women in Azerbaijan, documenting systematic attempts to defame and silence women activists and their partners through smear campaigns, accusations, as well as blackmail by hacking to their social network accounts and publishing of private information, including material of sexual nature.[13] Amnesty International’s Researcher on South Caucasus, Natalia Nozadze, stated that:  “The pattern and methods of these gendered reprisals and the fact that the targets are women who have exposed human rights violations or been critical of the authorities, strongly indicates that the Azerbaijani authorities are either directly responsible or complicit in these crimes. It is the repressive government of Azerbaijan that stands to benefit from these dirty methods”.[14]

Participation in the job market[edit]

Though the majority of Azerbaijani women have jobs outside the home, women are underrepresented in high-level jobs, including top business positions.[3]

As of 2017, 78.1% of all teaching staff (including 51.9% of all university lecturers), 64.9% of all medical staff and 40.2% of athletes in Azerbaijan were women. However, for the same period, women accounted for just 28.7% of civil servants and 20.9% of registered business owners.[15]


In 1931, Leyla Mammadbeyova, born in Baku, became one of the first Soviet female aviators and paratroopers, the first one in the Caucasus and the Middle East. Around 600,000 natives of Azerbaijan fought in World War II as part of the Red Army, with 10,000 of those being women who had voluntarily signed up and served both as military and medical personnel, the most prominent ones being sniper Ziba Ganiyeva and pilot Zuleykha Seyidmammadova.[16] During the active phase of the first Nagorno-Karabakh War in the 1990s, 2,000 of Azerbaijan's 74,000 military personnel were women, and 600 of them directly took part in the military operations.[17] Military service for women is voluntary; currently there are around 1,000 women serving in the Azerbaijani army.[18]


Though a secular country, Azerbaijan requires certification and registration for people performing religious rites. Muslim women in Azerbaijan can study to become certified mullahs and lead women-only gatherings, a unique local tradition that goes back centuries.[19] As of 2016, there was one local female Lutheran pastor in Azerbaijan.[20]

Domestic violence[edit]

On 22 June 2010, the Azerbaijani Parliament adopted the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence.[21]

In 2000, Azerbaijan signed up to the Optional Protocol of CEDAW, recognizing the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, after which it can receive and consider complaints from individuals or groups within its jurisdiction.[22]

Rape is illegal in Azerbaijan and carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.[3] A new domestic violence law come into force in 2010, which criminalized spousal abuse, including marital rape.[23][24] Nevertheless, others highlight that in reality many in Azerbaijan do not consider this as a crime and the prevailing culture does not encourage complaints about marital rape.[25]

During 2011 female members of parliament and the head of the State Committee on Women and Children increased their activities against domestic violence. Media coverage of domestic violence issues also began to raise awareness of the problem. A 2010 law establishes a framework for investigation of domestic violence complaints, defines a process to issue restraining orders, and calls for the establishment of a shelter and rehabilitation center for victims.[3]

However societal attitudes lag behind: 40% of Azerbaijanis surveyed in 2012 still believed that agree that women should tolerate domestic violence in order to keep their family together, and 22% agreed that there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten.[26] The 2006 renaming of the state Committee on Women's Issues as the State Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Affairs (SCFWCA) has also been interpreted by some as a protectionist approach that views women as vulnerable “reproductive units" rather than independent individuals.[22]

In July 2021, women’s rights activists brought a coffin to the Interior Ministry to protest and raise awareness of the recent increase in domestic violence against women. Police detained three activists and removed the others from the area. The detainees were released soon after being detained.[27]


Prostitution is an administrative offense rather than a crime and is punishable by a fine of up to $102 (88 AZN).[3] Pimps and brothel owners may be sentenced to prison for up to six years.[3]

Timeline of women's emancipation[edit]

Note that this includes the period of time when Azerbaijan was a part of the Soviet Union, i.e.Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic

Year Event Location
1889 Nigar Shikhlinskaya became the first Azeri female to obtain a higher education.[28] Tiflis
1901 Empress Alexandra School, the first Azeri secular girls' school and the first of such kind in the Russian Empire, opened.[29] Baku
1908 Saint Petersburg Women's Medical College graduate Sona Valikhan became the first certified Azeri female physician.[30] Saint Petersburg
1908 Philanthropist Hamida Javanshir founded the first Azeri coeducational school.[31] Kahrizli
1910 Actress Govhar Gaziyeva became the first Azeri woman to appear on stage.[32] Tiflis
1911 Khadija Alibeyova published Ishig, the first Azeri-language women's magazine.[33] Tiflis
1912 The first Azeri female opera singer Shovkat Mammadova made her first stage performance.[34] Baku
1919 Azerbaijani women were granted the right to vote.[35]
1929 Izzat Orujova became the first Azerbaijani female actress to act in a feature film.[36]
1930 Gynaecologist Adila Shahtakhtinskaya became the first Azeri woman to earn a doctoral degree.[37]
1931 Leyla Mammadbeyova performed her first flight and became the first Azerbaijani female aviator.[38] Baku
1932 The first Azerbaijani ballerina Gamar Almaszadeh debuted in Shakh-Senem.[39] Baku
1938 People's Commissar of Justice Ayna Sultanova became the first Azerbaijani female cabinet minister.[40]
1949 Biologist Valida Tutayug became the first Azeri female member of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (founded in 1945).[41]
1964 Sakina Aliyeva was elected Chair of the Supreme Soviet of Nakhchivan, becoming the first Azerbaijani female head of parliament.[42] Nakhchivan
2007 Manzar Ismayilova became the first Azeri female pastor.[43]
2009 Natavan Mirvatova was promoted to major general, the third highest military rank in Azerbaijan and the highest a female has ever been elevated to.[17]


  1. ^ "Gender Inequality Index" (PDF). HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORTS. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Global Gender Gap Report 2021" (PDF). World Economic Forum. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Azerbaijan (2011). United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2011). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ Tadeusz Swietochowski. Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920: The Shaping of a National Identity in a Muslim Community. Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0521522455, 9780521522458, p.144
  5. ^ 2015 Parliamentary Election Results.
  6. ^ New Female Minister in Nakhchivan. Haqqin.az. 2 September 2015.
  7. ^ Şəhər və rayonların icra başçıları: Doğulduğu yer, tarix və vəzifəsinin icrasına başladığı il. Banker.az. 6 May 2020.
  8. ^ Azərbaycan Respublikasının xarici ölkələrdəki səfirlik, daimi nümayəndəlik və konsulluqları. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.
  9. ^ Mərkəzi Seçki Komissiyasının tərkibi
  10. ^ DSK Komissiyalar.
  11. ^ Azərbaycan Respublikasının Konstitusiya Məhkəməsi: Tərkib.
  12. ^ Proportion of female judges in UK among lowest in Europe. The Guardian. 6 October 2016.
  13. ^ "AZERBAIJAN: GENDER-BASED REPRISALS AGAINST WOMEN MUST STOP" (PDF). www.amnesty.org. 12 May 2021. Retrieved 16 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "Azerbaijan: Stop the vicious campaign of gendered smears and reprisals against women activists". Amnesty International. 2021-05-12. Retrieved 2021-12-16.
  15. ^ Anar Samadov (www.anarsamadov.net). "Statistical database | The State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan". The State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  16. ^ Женщины Азербайджана в Великой Отечественной войне
  17. ^ a b First Azerbaijani Woman to Become Major General Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine. Lent.az. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  18. ^ Around 1,000 Women in Azerbaijani Army. Trend.az. 12 August 2014.
  19. ^ Şeyx Azərbaycanda qadın mollalardan danışdı. Oxu.az. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  20. ^ Anar Alizadeh. Azərbaycanda xristianlıq. Elm və təhsil, 2016; p. 241
  21. ^ "Law of the Azerbaijan Republic "About prevention of domestic violence"". cis-legislation.com. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  22. ^ a b "Policy Attitudes towards Women in Azerbaijan: Is Equality Part of the Agenda? | Gunda-Werner-Institute". www.gwi-boell.de. Archived from the original on 2019-04-20. Retrieved 2016-04-12.
  23. ^ http://sgdatabase.unwomen.org/uploads/Law%20on%20Prevention%20of%20Domsetic%20Violence%202010.pdf[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Home" (PDF). Gender Equality. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Gender based violence in Azerbaijan". www.peace.ax. Archived from the original on 2018-10-05. Retrieved 2016-04-12.
  26. ^ Crrc (2015-03-02). "Deserving to be beaten and tolerating violence: Attitudes towards violence against women in Azerbaijan". Social Science in the Caucasus. Retrieved 2016-04-12.
  27. ^ "Activists bring coffin to Azerbaijani ministry following spate of women's killings". OC Media. 2021-07-30. Retrieved 2021-09-02.
  28. ^ Azerbaijan Soviet Encyclopedia (1987), vol. 10, p. 551.
  29. ^ The Past Days Archived 2007-03-22 at the Wayback Machine by Manaf Suleymanov. 1990
  30. ^ Female Activity at the Turn of the Century. Gender-az.org.
  31. ^ (in Azerbaijani) Megastar and Her Light. An interview with Hamida Javanshir's granddaughter Dr. Mina Davatdarova. Gender-az.org
  32. ^ Göyərçin xanım Archived 2015-05-28 at the Wayback Machine. Adam.az.
  33. ^ Azerbaijani Woman in Historical Retrospective. Gender-az.org.
  34. ^ Shovkat Mammadova, Audacious Challenge by Fuad Akhundov. Azerbaijan International. Winter 1997 (retrieved 26 August 2006)
  35. ^ 7th annual Azerbaijan Adoptive Families Reunion Archived 2020-05-07 at the Wayback Machine. Azerbaijani Women of America.
  36. ^ Izzat Orujova-100 Archived 2012-04-23 at the Wayback Machine. Bakinsky Rabochy. October 2009.
  37. ^ Adila Shahtakhtinskaya. Adam.az.
  38. ^ (in Russian) The Proprietress of the Sky Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine by I.Gadirova. Nash Vek. 7 May 2004. Retrieved 6 June 2007
  39. ^ Center Stage: My Life as Azerbaijan's First Ballerina by Gamar Almaszadeh. Azerbaijan International. #10.3. Autumn 2002
  40. ^ Hidden Facts about Ayna Sultanova. Deyerler. 8 February 2010.
  41. ^ Famous Alumni - Valida Tutayug Archived 2015-05-28 at the Wayback Machine. Azerbaijani State Agricultural University.
  42. ^ Nakhchivan Archived 2009-07-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  43. ^ First Azerbaijani Female Cleric. Day.az. 17 November 2007. Retrieved 4 October 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]