Gender Equality Strategy undp armenia Country Office 2016-2020

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Gender Equality Strategy

UNDP Armenia Country Office


Yerevan, Armenia


UNDP Armenia Country Office: Gender Equality Strategy 2016-2020


UNDP Armenia Country Office and Gender Team


Armine Hovhannisyan,


  1. Discussion of a final draft with CO staff.

  2. Comments incorporated from CO, HQ, and Regional Offices.

  3. Endorsement by UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative.


  1. UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017

  2. UNDP Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017

  3. UNDP Programme and Operations Policies and Procedures

  4. UNDP Armenia Programme and Operations Standard Operational Procedures

  5. UNDP’s Policies of Higher Quality Programming and Quality Assurance

  6. UNDP Corporate Planning System

  7. UNDP Gender Seal Benchmarks

Effective Date:

1 January 2016


UNDP Armenia Country Office and All Projects

Previous document to be replaced:

Draft UNDP Armenia Country Office Gender Mainstreaming Strategy and Standard Operational Procedures 2013-2018


This section presents objectives of UNDP Armenia Gender Equality Strategy and the overview of new gender equality policies introduced in the Country Office.

The objectives of this document are twofold:

  1. introduce in UNDP Armenia a formal, standardized system to apply gender mainstreaming (GM) across programme and operations, in line with corporate gender equality policies and benchmarks; and

  1. “de-mystify” for the staff the practical application of “gender mainstreaming”, “gender equality”, and other gender-related concepts and policies.

The current gender mainstreaming policies are mandatory for the implementation by UNDP Armenia all staff in country office and projects, regardless contractual modalities, time in post, and/or any other factors that may apply.

The document comes in conjunction with Country Office three other documents, i) UNDP Armenia Programme and Operations Standard Operational Procedures, ii) UNDP Armenia Gender Mainstreaming Action Plan, and iii) UNDP Armenia M&E Plan, that present the implementation steps and intended results through the programme, project, and the year cycles.

The document is fully in line with Country Programme Document 2016-2020 and its Action Plan, UN – Armenia Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2016-2020, UNDP’s vision and principles of 2014-2017 Strategic Plan, 2014-2017 Gender Equality Strategy, Gender Seal benchmarks, Higher Quality Programming, Quality Assurance, Results-Based Management and Institutional Effectiveness, as well as a number of other key national strategic development frameworks promoting sustainable human development, in general, and gender equality and women’s empowerment, in particular.

UNDP Armenia’s this important policy and operational framework comes to provide a unified approach and equip CO staff with knowledge and tools for gender mainstreaming aligned with corporate gender equality policies and standards, to pursue national development goals and Agenda 2030 in inclusive, gender-sensitive, equitable, and results-oriented way, with the consideration of also socio-environmental safeguards and innovative approaches.

While learning from UNDP’s broader experience on gender worldwide, the current document focuses on the application of gender mainstreaming methods and approaches tailored to Armenia’s context with respect of the principles defined in the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, 2005. UNDP Armenia will be also scanning the horizons to identify new methodologies relevant to the country context.

The CO revisited its previous approaches and policies on gender mainstreaming to incorporate a systematic approach across the board. The main focus of CO gender mainstreaming is to ensure meaningful participation of beneficiaries through needs assessment, design, decision-making, access to opportunities, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programme and project processes.

The main changes include:

  1. new programme cycle documents (UNDAF, CPD, CPAP) were gender-mainstreamed, including a standalone Gender Outcome, more gender disaggregated indicators incorporated, and Gender Marker targeting at GEN2/ 3 for most of the Outputs;

  1. inclusion of gender analysis in formulation of project documents. Allocation of up to 15% of project budget for GEN 1-2 projects and more than 15% for GEN3 projects aimed at gender equality and women empowerment;

  1. introducing CO gender mainstreaming mechanism including Gender Team chaired by senior management, gender equality budgeting mechanism, and a completely new architecture of CO gender focal points;

  1. application of corporate gender-mainstreamed Quality Programming and Quality Assurance check-lists. LPAC review ensuring gender, including as part of socio-environmental standards parameter;

  1. application of a new Gender equality and RBM mainstreamed project document template;

  1. maintenance of gender-sensitive M&E framework;

  1. allocation of at least 10% of CO Learning Budget for gender equality;

  1. engendered CO communications strategy and website;

  1. engendered CO operations processes such as procurement and recruitment;

  1. Invigorated CO work-and-life balance policies and further formalized zero-tolerance policies on sexual harassment.

UNDP Armenia will further streamline, systematize and focus its gender equality related interventions through 2016-2020 programme cycle. Thus, UNDP Armenia will not be focusing on “traditional” corporate areas of support such as gender-based violence, domestic violence, and/or access to social services. UNDP’s assistance in the mentioned areas will be rather partial or complementary to UNFPA and UNICEF work, tackling the area in a substantive way. UNDP will further deepen its efforts for gender disaggregated data collection and analyses to promote principles of equal opportunities for balanced management and leadership practices at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life, resilience, inclusive and sustainable growth, SCR 1325, and environmental governance including through a mechanism of small grants. This internal and informal “division of labor” among the UNCT Agencies will enable efficient investment of the CO limited resources.

Last but not least, this is to express sincere thanks to all CO, Regional and HQ Colleagues for invaluable support through the preparation of this strategy document.


This section presents a short overview of international legal and policy framework on gender equality and gender mainstreaming.
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. CEDAW is often described as an international bill of women’s rights. 189 states ratified it, including Armenia in 1993.
The gender equality and women’s empowerment mandate is universally agreed on by Member States. It encompasses the areas of peace, development and human rights. The mandates on gender equality derive from the United Nations Charter, which unequivocally reaffirmed the equal rights of men and women.
Gender mainstreaming approach was endorsed in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women as a critical and strategic approach for achieving gender equality commitments. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action mandated all stakeholders in development policies and programmes, including UN bodies, Member States and civil society actors, to take action in this regard. The progress review vis-à-vis this framework takes place every 5 years. Armenia’s last review was in 2015 (Beijing+20).


This section provides a quick overview of gender mainstreaming at UNDP.
In UNDP, Women in Development strategic policy approach was introduced in 19861 to integrate broadly gender concerns across development sectors.
In 1992, the focus of UNDP’s work changed to Gender in Development, recognizing the necessity to address socially constructed roles and relations of women and men, rather than looking at women in isolation.

2004-2007 UNDP Multi-Year Funding Framework (MYFF) first time prioritized promotion of gender equality as one of development drivers. In 2005, corporate gender strategy and an action plan were adopted, as well as the UN system-wide initiative was kicked off to enhance institutional foundations for gender mainstreaming.

In 2008, UNDP Europe and CIS regional centre initiated a broad “in-house” capacity development on gender. Following this, in 2008, UNDP Armenia conducted Gender Audit and prepared its first country office draft gender strategy.

Gender Audit highlighted UNDP Armenia’s work on gender equality from the time of its inception in Armenia in 1992/1993. Yet, gender mainstreaming interventions in Armenia were found to be not enough holistic and systematic. In 2008, UNDP Armenia rolled out gender mainstreaming trainings for the staff and set up Gender Team. In the years to come, the country office aimed to develop broader capacity development on gender mainstreaming both “in-house” and with national counterparts. Along with this, Gender Audit noted Armenia’s positive experience related to gender-balanced security squad, baby room (currently not existing), and implementation of policies on flexi hours, summer schedule, and work-and-life balance.


This section provides the main highlights of the national gender equality context.

The principle of equality of women and men is enshrined in Armenian Constitution and is reflected in legislation.

Armenia ratified the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1993 and its Optional Protocol in 2006, thus formally applying gender equality. Yet, a broad numbers of international conventions and declarations on women’s rights and gender equality that Armenia jointed have not yet created reality on the ground.

The Government recognized promotion of gender equality as priority and embedded it in 2008-2012 programme.

Gender Equality Policy Concept Paper was developed, inter alia, with UNDP’s support and was approved in 2010.

The Concept emphasized gender equality as the first and foremost democratic value, one of the fundamental human rights and a precondition for achieving social justice, use of human potential, and raising the quality of life.  It has been also recognized as a prerequisite for formation of a democratic, social, and rule of law state.

Government approved and put in practice two 2011-2015 strategic gender equality frameworks: i) Gender Policy Strategic Programme and ii) Combating Gender-Based Violence. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs was assigned to be the responsible line ministry on gender.

In 2011, Electoral Code was revised, among other, with the following gender clause “either gender may not exceed 80% of a party’s list for the proportional-representation seats”.

Further to this, the Law on Provision of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities of Women and Men, inter alia, also developed with UNDP’s support was adopted in May 2013. The charter of the Women’s Council at the Prime-Minister’s Office was revised and now it is in charge of institutional gender mechanism (national machinery).

Despite many positive changes in place, including the existence of above-mentioned policy and institutional framework in Armenia, gender inequalities broadly persist. Discriminatory practices are based on strong perception about traditional segregation of gender roles in the society. For example, woman’ role is more seen as a family cherisher rather than equal economic partner. Issues related to reproductive rights and gender-based violence are only now being discussed widely outside of home; before they were not recognized as gender issues as such.

Women comprise about 52% of the population of Armenia and about 57% of those with higher education. Despite this, their representation in decision-making at all levels remains low. According to the official statistics, the unemployment rate for economically active women is 1.6 times higher than for men. Employed women frequently occupy low-paid or low-level positions within the labor market; women usually occupy informal market. Underlying gender causes and implications of the mentioned issues need to be studied in-depth to ensure most gender targeted and evidence-based interventions to maximize its benefit equitably for women and men and avoid gender-negative effects of otherwise gender-blind interventions. Through its new programme cycle, UNDP Armenia CO will attach increased attention to gender analysis through design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages of its interventions.

In 2012 Parliamentary elections, 14 female MPs (out of 131) passed, comprising 10.68%. To compare, the average percentage of women in the parliaments of Europe and CIS region is 19%. 

Women and men representation in political and discretionary positions in the executive branch remains imbalanced. Women comprise in average about 10 per cent at the positions of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (3 out of 19 – 15.7% (Culture, Diaspora and Justice) and 4 out of 57 - 7% (Labor and Social Affairs, Education and Science, and Culture) respectively as of March 2016.  

There are no women among the 10 governors (marzpets) and there are two women among the 23 deputy governors (deputy marzpets)2. In average, women constitute 11% of the higher echelon of public administration.

Along with this, “feminization” takes place at the lower levels of public administration, where women widely occupy more than 50% of posts, if not the overwhelming majority. Gender imbalance persists at the management level of the city mayors' offices and the local self-government bodies.

Women constitute 5 % of city council members (avagani), and 2% of village community leaders. None of Yerevan's 12 communities have female leaders or deputies.

Under MDG3, Armenia was committed to ensure that, by 2015, women would make at least 25% of female MPs, ministers, deputy ministers and governors and at least 10% of female community heads. Women’s share in registered unemployed was expected to be 1.3 of men.

SDG nationalization process is yet to come to specify national development targets and indicators. Overall, SDG Goal 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” has 9 global targets: 1) End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. 2) Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation. 3) Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. 4) Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate. 5) Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. 6) Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences. 7) Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws. 8) Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women. 9) Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.

Speaking broadly, gender-related challenges in Armenia include low representation in decision-making in political, economic and public life, reproductive rights, including sex-selective abortions with preference of male, gender-based/domestic violence, including the high percentage of psychological violence and controlled behavior, high risk of exposure to trafficking, low self-esteem of women and girls, strongly perpetrated traditional gender stereotypes, women’s weak networking, and in many cases financial-economic dependence on men.

This section provides UNDP’s gender equality vision, mandate, and the role, as put forward in UNDP Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017, and the potential niches of gender equality work in Armenia through the new programme cycle 2016-2020, in line with UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017.

The UN Development Programme,

  • as an institution that believes in growth that creates wealth and opportunities for many not the few,

  • being one of few multilateral agencies working holistically across sectors, and

  • operating at heart of the UN Development System as manager of the Resident Coordinator System and Chair of the UN Development Group

is strongly committed to:

  • eradication of extreme poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion

  • striving for faster progress in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment applying a sustainable human development approach

Gender perspective, being an integrating dimension of UNDP’s works, relates also to the below outcomes of UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017:

  • Growth is inclusive and sustainable, incorporating productive capacities that create employment and livelihoods for the poor and excluded.

  • Citizen expectations for voice, development, the rule of law and accountability are met by stronger systems of democratic governance.

  • Countries have strengthened institutions to progressively deliver universal access to basic services.

  • Countries are able to reduce the likelihood of conflict, and lower the risk of natural disasters, including from climate change

  • Early recovery and rapid return to sustainable development pathways are achieved in post-conflict and post-disaster settings.

  • Development databases and actions at all levels prioritize poverty, inequality and exclusion, consistent with our engagement principles.

Gender-responsive approach has been emphasized

as one of the methodologies for pursuing the outcomes of UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017,


(i) reflecting the pivotal significance of gender equality and women’s empowerment; and
(ii) understanding that sustainable human development will not be fully achieved unless women and girls are able to contribute on an equal basis with men and boys to their societies.

UNDP is committed to support capacity development of its national counterparts to adopt approaches that advance women’s rights and take account of the full range of their contributions to development..

UNDP has a two-pronged mandate for working towards gender equality:

gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment.
UNDP views gender equality from two main perspectives – human development3 and human rights.
UNDP understands gender equality as both a development goal itself (SDG5) and an irreducible condition for inclusive, democratic, violence-free and sustainable development (other SDGs).

From human development perspective: gender equality is about creating an environment in which both men and women can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accordance with their needs and interests4. It is also about building human ‘capabilities’ to lead long and healthy life, to be knowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community. Without these, many choices are simply not available and many opportunities remain inaccessible5. In relation to the sustainable human development,6 capabilities, wellbeing of men and women and relationship with the environment that sustains them are what matter. Sustainable Human Development therefore, focuses on ‘…the expansion of women’s and men’s freedoms to live long, healthy and creative lives; to advance other goals they have reason to value; and to engage actively in shaping development equitably and sustainably on a shared planet.7

CEDAW provides a comprehensive framework to guide all rights-based action for gender equality, including that of UNDP.

Under this treaty, gender inequality is understood to be the result of discrimination against women.

Further to the equality of opportunities, CEDAW calls for the equality of outcomes.

From human/women rights perspective8: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) provides a comprehensive framework to guide all rights-based action for gender equality, including that of UNDP.

The development experience has shown that simply having in place anti-discriminatory legislative clauses is not sufficient. Further to promoting equality of opportunities, CEDAW calls for the equality of outcomes aimed at real gender equality changes in daily lives of men and women.

By empowering women to claim their rights in development spheres, and supporting governments to be both proactive and responsive in advancing the realization of these rights, UNDP leverages the expansion of choices and opportunities based on the UN global instruments and the strategic development frameworks on gender e.g. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda (SDG5 and others), Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, Hyogo Framework for Action, and the UN System-wide Policy on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

Brief reference on each of the global gender instruments follows below:

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