Do citizens of Armenia participate in local social protection reforms? To what extent they are involved in decision-making processes? What prevents them from fully participating in this process?
The Armenian Association of Social Workers (AASW) asked the aforementioned questions at 12 Town-Hall meetings with the participation of more than 800 citizens in all 11 regions of Armenia.
AASW consolidated and analyzed concerns and recommendations expressed by the participants in regards to citizen perception and awareness of social reforms. The Town Hall format became a platform for them to provide recommendations on the current reforms in the social protection system. In particular the following topics were covered during those discussions: reorganization of childcare institutions; social protection for people with disabilities; prevention of domestic violence; and the introduction of integrated social services.
One of the common concerns raised by citizens during the meetings was the lack of social services in marzes, as well as the inaccessibility of and poor collaboration between existing local services. These and other issues directly affect the quality of provided services and consequently the possible resolution of local social problems.
“ … there is a USUAL PRACTICE in this system, which will never make it function properly.
We are not yet ready for those changes…”
It was evident that the town hall participants were skeptical about systemic reforms to the social protection system. However, citizens did express hope that new reforms would lead to desired changes and were enthusiastic to share their recommendations for supporting the reform processes.
Based on some of the recommendations from participants at these meetings, AASW believes that citizens lack reliable information on the current social reforms. Information on legislative amendments are either inaccessible to citizens or provided to citizens after the legislation has already been implemented, meaning a participatory approach does not exist for citizens to express their views in those changes.
“ … We would appreciate if there is at least an informational leaflet available
to raise our awareness about the current processes….”
Town hall meetings have been conducted through the support of UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) in the frame of “Acting together for an Accountable Social State in Armenia” project.
Consolidated results and complete analysis will be shared at a public hearing to be held in Fall of 2017.