In 2017, over 163,000 young men and more than 79,000 women studied at universities in Azerbaijan.
There were twice as many men in 2017 as there were women. However, in 2010 there were 2.4 times less women than men, indicating a certain amount of progress.
These statistics have popped up in the past few days, as Azerbaijani social media is actively discussing the issue of women’s education.
How did the issue arise?
One guest said on a popular talk show that neither education nor work is necessary for a woman, and that all this only prevents her from running a household. As an example, he spoke about his wife, whom he had noticed when she was still in seventh grade. Intending to marry her in the future, he immediately took her out of school.
This opinion is shared by many men in Azerbaijan, not only in the more rural areas but also in Baku itself. Husbands often prohibit wives from working under various pretexts. Some say that she will not have time for the family, while others do not want her to be among other men or far away from home.
The statement voiced on the talk show caused quite a stir, both on social media and in the press. Here are some typical comments:
“And he is still proud of his low deed!”
“Yes, this [idiot] simply had nothing to talk about with an educated woman.”
“Such men do not think that if something happens to them, the wife will remain without means of subsistence, without the possibility of earning money to feed herself and children. What will she do then?”
The media expressed more restraint and instead voiced the idea that children who grew up with an “uneducated” mother would also grow up to be uneducated. Nobody openly stood up to defend the opponent of women’s education. However, the above statistics show that his opinion is not an unpopular one in Azerbaijani society.
For example, one Facebook user spoke about a recent conversation she had with a taxi driver, who said that a woman didn’t need to study or work.
“I didn’t let my wife go outside until my children grew up, not even to buy bread. Not to mention work. And today’s girls are completely spoiled.”
Gender activist Gulnara Mehdiyeva believes that married Azerbaijani women do not have enough incentive to go to work:
“In most Azerbaijani families there is no division of labour. Married women know that even if they work, the responsibility of housekeeping will still remain on their shoulders. Therefore, they prefer to choose one of these loads, rather than both at once. For an image of a working woman to become attractive, the economic situation in the country must change. It is necessary to eliminate artificial barriers to women’s career growth, to raise wages. There should be more examples of successful women.”