17 Apr 2014
Ruslan Ismayil-zada, Communication Officer, UNDP Azerbaijan
After completing a course in entrepreneurship at the UNDP-supported Women’s Resource Centre, Rena Mehraliyeva opened a successful wedding and event-planning business. Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan
In Azerbaijan, especially in rural areas, there exists a very powerful term for women who don’t follow the rules: ‘pis giz’, which translates to ‘bad girl’.
For an Azerbaijani woman, being called a “pis giz” is more than just a gender slur. It can mean the total loss of respect in her community, ineligibility for marriage, and the end of a once-bright future.
Unfortunately, it is very easy to become a target for this derogatory term: the simple act of being seen in an internet cafe or participating in public events is all it takes. As a consequence, access to public places for many rural women is limited.
However, things are starting to change. In the small rural city of Sabirabad, the region’s first women’s resource centre has recently opened its doors. A joint project between UNDP in Azerbaijan and local government, the centre offers a safe public space so many rural Azerbaijani women have long been denied.