By Nane Atshemian
Gender inequality remains pronounced in Armenia, with women being paid considerably less than men and grossly underrepresented in government, according to new research made public on Tuesday.
Its conclusions are based on a nationwide household survey financed by the United Nations Development Program and conducted by the Armenian National Statistical Service (NSS) in 2004.
The survey found that the average female salary in the country stood at 30,000 drams ($67) a month, compared to an average of 57,000 drams earned by men at the time. It also shows that unemployment among Armenian women is twice higher than among men.
But despite the income and employment disparity, pollsters suggested virtually identical rates of poverty among men and women: 35 percent and 34 percent respectively. They also found that the two genders have practically the same level of education.
Still, nearly 70 percent of respondents said their family is headed by a man. The pollsters also found that the vast majority of local men continue to shun housework, considering it a female prerogative.
It emerged that the average Armenian women spends four hours a day on household tasks such as cleaning and cooking. The average time of housework done by a man is a mere four minutes, according to the survey. It also suggests that women devote ten times more time to childcare than their husbands do.
“I think the picture is quite telling and does not need any comments,” said Hrachya Petrosian, a senior NSS official and the main author of the study.
The persisting patriarchal character of Armenian society also manifests itself through a serious lack of women holding high-level positions in various branches of government. None of Armenia’s government ministers, regional governors and town or city mayors is a woman, and there are only five female deputies in its 131-member parliament. The Armenian courts are somewhat less male-dominated, currently boasting 20 female judges.
(Photolur photo: The head of the UN office in Armenia, Consuelo Vidal, right, and NSS chief Stepan Mnatsakanian presenting the survey.)