The establishment of Azerbaijan's first Women's Bar Association is nearing completion with the backing of the Rule of Law Initiative and the financial support of USAID. This support to female lawyers is urgently needed as the ratio of male to female lawyers in Azerbaijan is among the lowest in the former Soviet Union. It is hoped that a women's bar association will help address the unique professional challenges and barriers facing women, and will provide a mechanism for women lawyers to lobby for their rights.
In November 2006, a working group of 20 female Azerbaijani attorneys was formed after the first International Conference for Women Lawyers was held in Baku. Since then, there have been five working group meetings organized and conducted by Rule of Law Initiative staff to facilitate the development of a draft charter and membership criteria for the new association. A comprehensive email distribution list has been created for the working group, allowing existing and prospective members to communicate more effectively. Charter and membership criteria are expected to be approved by all the members in early March, followed by a kick-off event officially launching the Azerbaijan Women's Bar Association.