Activists and other members from civic society gathered this week outside of the Armenian parliament to protest against the suggested changes in the Law on Temporary Unemployability Benefits which regulates pre- and post-natal maternity leave pays in Armenia.
As of today the law guarantees an equivalent of the average monthly salary for women on maternity leave during 140 days but the government-proposed plan wants to calculate the salary based on the length of service in the most recent job, leading working mothers who stayed less than a year at the same employer to get only 40% of her normal salary during her maternity leave. Women who have been with the same employer for 3-5 years would get 60% and starting from 5 years mothers would receive 80% of their normal salary. The government states that the money it would get from introducing this reform will be used to ensure that some money is given also to unemployed mothers.
The protest last week and yesterday gathered a larger number of protester than usually take part in activities concerning women’s rights in Armenia which can be seen as proof that this is something upsetting a larger part of civic society here. Knarik Mkrtchan activist from Women’s Resource Center Armenia comments “Not only women, but also other members of the family will suffer because of this law, since the budget of the family will be cut.”
Activists and women’s rights defenders in Armenia supports the suggestion to also provide unemployed mothers with funds during their maternity but strongly oppose that this money should be provided by cuts in the pre- and post-natal maternity leave pays for working mothers. They also strongly critique the part of the proposed reform which requires calculating the salary based on the length of service in the most recent job since this would hinder women’s carrier possibilities as they would need to take this under consideration when offered a new job.
Knarik Mkrtchan, again: “The adoption of the law will cause extra discrimination against women while applying for a job.”
Poster from ArtAct