The Republic of Azerbaijan is a transcontinental country in the Caucasus region, located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
Around 10.2 million people live in Azerbaijan with approximately 60% of the population living in cities. The country has a high rate of economic development and literacy, and a low unemployment rate. Despite a significant improvement in national poverty levels, wealth is not widely spread through the country, and many rural households remain vulnerable to poverty.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Azerbaijan since 2000.
Due to high poverty rates, more than 25,000 children lack parental care. Many children are placed in institutions by parents who cannot afford to look after them. The majority of those children have one or both of their parents still alive.
Without individual and child-focused care, children in institutional environments are more likely to suffer from poor physical and mental health, and developmental delay. They may also face emotional challenges and a lack of trust in themselves and others.
The hidden costs for schooling, including books and uniforms, as well as poor educational infrastructure and quality, prevent many families from enrolling their children in school.
In addition, children who do not attend school, can be another source of financial income for the family. More than 7% of children between the ages of 5-14 are involved in child labour.
Gender inequality is a serious problem in Azerbaijan where girls are seen as less valuable than boys. Changes in the law made marriage before the age of 18 illegal. However, the minimum marriage age can be reduced in some cases.
Consequently, more than 10% of girls are married before their 18th birthday, and 2% married before they turned 15 years old.
Early marriage is one of the main reason girls miss out on education in Azerbaijan. Supporting girls’ is one of the best solutions to overcoming poverty.