Annually thousands of people worldwide leave their homeland and settle in foreign countries as a consequence of migration. Poverty, social injustice, poor economic conditions, violation of human rights, as well as the threat of war and regional instability are the most common reasons for migration. Armenia is ranked among the countries with high rates of emigration. Annually not only men but also women leave Armenia in large numbers. In order to get a better understanding of the level of women’s migration from Armenia, we met the expert on issues of migration and trafficking in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office in Yerevan Mrs. Ovsanna Babayan. The interview is introduced below.
– How would you rate the current level of women’s migration from Armenia? What is the percentage of women migrants? According to your studies, has the level of women’s migration increased or decreased in Armenia compared to previous years?
In recent years the level of women’s migration has increased all over the world, including in Armenia. According to statistics, 51-52% of migrants in the world are women. Comparing with the years of 1991-1993, we can say that in those years the overwhelming majority of emigrants from Armenia were men. In those years, forced out of the poor socio-economic conditions, men were going abroad in order to earn enough money to keep their family in Armenia. But in recent years, according to studies, tendency is observed in the growth of women’s migration, thus the number of women leaving Armenia increased.
– What are the primary reasons for the increase in women’s migration from Armenia?
Studies show that especially in recent years women tend to leave Armenia due to the family reunification, in order to join their husbands. However, there have as well been many women who have left for abroad as an individual, with the purpose to work and to earn money. In fact, the reasons of migration may be different. If we compare the high, middle and low classes, then we can say that the middle class population migrates from Armenia the most. This assumes that the poor socio-economic conditions should not be considered as the only reason of migration. At the airports and borders people are not asked the real reason of their departure. In fact, there is no need for surveys because one may never know whether the person will tell the truth or will hide the real reason.
– According to your studies, what is the annual return statistics of women migrants to Armenia?
It is difficult to give precise statistical data since it assumes annual research and studies which, in turn, require huge monetary assets. This would not be so realistic to conduct in Armenia due to the current socio-economic conditions in the country. However, I can say that there are no significant trends in return statistics to Armenia. There are still not adequate socio-economic conditions in Armenia which could encourage the return of emigrants. Although poor socio-economic conditions are not the only reason for high levels of migration from Armenia, promotion of small and medium-sized businesses will not only encourage the return of migrants but also will significantly contribute to the reduction of the current high levels of migration.
– How many of the unemployed people in Armenia are women? Is the unemployment rate much higher for women than for men?
According to statistics, the number of unemployed women in Armenia is larger than that of the men. However, this is also due to the fact that women are more likely to register as unemployed than men. Based on some psychological complexes, men do not want to register as unemployed in order not to receive unemployment compensation. According to them, it degrades their dignity. That is why it is difficult to say whether the above-mentioned official data corresponds to the reality.
– According to You, does the stereotype of traditional roles of men and women, which may restrict women’s freedom of movement and the opportunities to work abroad, still exist, or has this stereotype already broken in Armenia?
No, that stereotype hasn’t broken yet, it exists, and will still exist for a long time. Although the level of women’s migration increased compared to previous years, women are not encouraged to work abroad. In order to find a job women leave Armenia for Turkey, United Arab Emirates, as well as some European countries. In many cases husbands go along with their wives in order to ensure the safety of their wives in the respective countries.
– What policies have been designed and implemented so far in order to reduce the level of migration from Armenia?
All the projects developed and implemented by the OSCE office in Armenia are also indirectly aimed at reducing the high level of migration from Armenia. In addition to the efforts of regional security, OSCE has also been implementing projects aimed at the enhancement of the protection of human rights, reinforcement of rule of law, as well as the improvement of the social-economic conditions in Armenia. Any progress in the mentioned fields will also lead to the reduction of migration from Armenia. OSCE also follows the integration process of the returning migrants to Armenia for the legislation of Armenia to be in line with international standards.