The Azerbaijan Minister of Labor and Social Protection Sahil Babayev and Social Policy and Services Department Head Himalay Mamishov met with Center for Social Development (CSD) Director Michael Sherraden, International Director Li Zou and Research Associate Aytakin Huseynli, along with Executive Director of Azerbaijan Social Work Public Union Lamiya Rzayeva in Baku, Azerbaijan, on November 5.
Babayev and the CSD delegation discussed the possibility of launching a Child Development Account (CDA) policy in Azerbaijan, fitting the context of the country and its current social policies and programs.
Sherraden, Zou and Huseynli also represented Washington University in St. Louis at the International Conference on Child Development Accounts: New Approach to Child Well-being, which convened on November 6 at the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts in Baku. They joined 80 Azerbaijan social work colleagues and international speakers, including presidents of social work associations from Georgia, Moldova and Turkey, and representatives from Israel, Mongolia, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
Sherraden delivered the keynote address “Universal Child Development Accounts: Toward Asset Building for Everyone.” He shared the latest research findings and lessons on CDA policy design and policy development. Sherraden made another presentation on Singapore’s experience with CDAs as a policy for achieving universal and progressive asset building and economic empowerment.
Zou presented “Child Development Accounts Policies: Examples and Perspectives from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China.” She also presented about the CDA policy diffusion pattern and experience in Korea. The presentations on CDA policy and programs in East Asia could inform policy design in Azerbaijan.
Huseynli’s presentation, “The Possibility of Child Development Accounts Policies in Post-Soviet Countries: Policy Design for Azerbaijan,” outlined a potential route for Azerbaijan to launch a CDA policy to benefit all children in the country.
Huseynli organized the conference with Rzayeva, Khanbala Ahmadli, Gulnara Panahova and Amalya Shirinova from the Azerbaijan Social Work Public Union, which Huseynli founded in 2009. As Sherraden observed, “She is not only developing social policy, but also developing the social work profession in Azerbaijan.”
“As an emerging economy, Azerbaijan develops all of its sectors from scratch including social policy,´ Huseynli said. “Organizing social workers as leaders in social development will contribute to more inclusive and efficient social policies and services for citizens. In my work, social work and social policies are integrated and go hand-in-hand.”
Attending and supporting the conference were the Rector of the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts Jeyran Mahmudova and Head of Department Sadagat Aliyeva, along with other leaders from the Azerbaijan Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, State Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs, and members of the Azerbaijan Social Work Public Union.
With support of the NGO Council under the President’s Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan, this international conference was jointly organized by the Azerbaijan Social Work Public Union, the Azerbaijan State Culture and Art University, and the Center for Social Development and Next Age Institute, both at the Washington University . The policy discussion built upon a series of policy meetings on CDAs in Baku that Sherraden and Huseynli attended in December 2017.
Reflecting on the meeting and consultation, Sherraden said: “CSD specializes in evidence-based policy innovations. Both gathering quality evidence and engaging in the policy process are long and hard work. Many years of effort are required.
“If we do our work well and we are fortunate, the resulting outcomes for family and communities can be very positive. That is always our goal, and sometimes we are able to succeed. In Azerbaijan, we are in a very constructive discussion.”