Feminism in Azerbaijan

Emerging Political Feminism in Azerbaijan: An Overview

October 25, 2021
1 min read
This article delves into the evolution and challenges of feminism in Azerbaijan, highlighting its transition from a "socio-cultural" realm to a "political/dangerous" domain.
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Feminism in Azerbaijan

In Azerbaijan, feminism faced extensive antagonism, causing the slow development of feminist organizations and initiatives. While early feminist groups in the 2000s and 2010s stayed in the “socio-cultural” zone, the women’s marches between 2019 and 2021 marked a crucial shift. Challenging the established system, these marches turned women’s activism from a “social/safe” space to a “political/dangerous” one. The article discusses how feminist activists have been exposed to various othering techniques of Azerbaijan’s autocratic regime.

Early Discourse on Feminism

Azerbaijani society has historically perceived feminism as divisive and disruptive to traditional gender norms, leading many to avoid the feminist label. By the 2000s, over 124 women’s organizations were active in Azerbaijan, addressing diverse issues, from poverty to domestic violence. However, only two explicitly identified with feminism in their mission. Additionally, while gender studies began to find a foothold in Azerbaijani universities, they faced skepticism, leading many women professionals and academics to identify as “genderologists” or women’s rights defenders rather than feminists.

Emerging Feminist Identity

The 2010s ushered in a new generation of feminists in Azerbaijan, primarily well-educated, middle-class women open to “Western values.” During this period, the feminist identity grew, with a new network of activists emerging. Despite the political turbulence of the decade, topics like women’s and queer rights were deemed safer, gaining more traction. Feminist groups and initiatives of this era focused mainly on enlightenment and awareness campaigns, steering clear of political discourses.

The Women’s Marches

The women’s marches between 2019 and 2021 disrupted the traditional activist spaces, pushing feminism into the political sphere. The “March 8 – GO against Violence” demonstration in 2019 was a prime example, advocating for eradicating patriarchy and male dominance. Following the marches, the Azerbaijani political system, which tightly controls public discourse and assemblies, began othering feminism. Feminists were labeled as threats, deviants, and traitors. As women’s issues started getting politicized, they transformed from “safe” social discussions to “dangerous” political ones. Consequently, this evolution will likely further reshape Azerbaijan’s civil society and politics.

Note: This article can be found on the Heinrich Böll Foundation Caucasus Office website, focusing on feminism and gender democracy. To access the complete article, please click on the provided link.

Khayyam Namazov

I am a committed researcher with expertise in social movements and power and knowledge technologies. My passion lies in helping people enhance their knowledge and skills on diverse subjects, as well as encouraging their personal growth and development.

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Khayyam Namazov

I am a committed researcher with expertise in social movements and power and knowledge technologies. My passion lies in helping people enhance their knowledge and skills on diverse subjects, as well as encouraging their personal growth and development.

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