Baku, September 29, Ziya Agazade, AZERTAC
Regional Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Eastern Europe and Central Asia Office Alanna Armitage, who paid a three-day visit to Azerbaijan to attend the Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Forum in Baku, hailed the organization`s cooperation with the country.
In an exclusive interview with AZERTAC, Armitage pointed out the key factors favoring steady population growth in Azerbaijan and emphasized the country`s favorable demographic situation and fertility rate. “Azerbaijan has a very large cohort of young people who will shortly be moving into the employment generation. And so, with the right investments in these young people, investments in youth in terms of their health and their education the country can actually benefit from what demography is called demographic dividend which is an economic surplus,” she said.
Armitage noted that UNFPA is working closely with Azerbaijan in the area of population dynamics to ensure that “issues like fertility changes, ageing, migration are fully understood based on the evidence and reflected in development policies”. “So we have a good cooperation with the State Statics Committee of Azerbaijan (SSC), for example, in which we have supported the previous census, which was done quite some time ago. And right now we are working with SSC on planning for the next population census,” she emphasized.
Armitage stressed the importance of cooperation with the Azerbaijani government around the population dynamics, saying “we all very much focused on the sustainable development goals, the importance of having sound data is so important for being able to understand who is being left behind, who do we need to really support with development programs.”
Commenting on the gender equality and implementation of gender-sensitive legislation and policies by the Azerbaijani government, Armitage said: “I do have to say I was very impressed to learn that Azerbaijan was one of the first countries in the world to give women the right to vote. Azerbaijan, like many countries of the world, has shown a lot of progress in the area of gender equality.” But Azerbaijan still has quite a way to go in this area, said Armitage, adding that UNFPA is working closely with the government in addressing those issues.
She underlined that UNFPA was very pleased to know about the commitment of the Azerbaijani government to addressing the issue of gender-based violence with respect to developing reform mechanisms for its victims as well as commitment to addressing gender-biased sex-selection. She also hailed what has been done by the government to address the issue of sex ratio at birth in the country. “UNFPA has been working closely with the Azerbaijani government to support development programs in this direction,” Armitage added.
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