The Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation organized a two-day seminar dedicated to Social Democracy (SD) in Yerevan on October 29-30, 2011. Dr. Christian Krell, one of the co-authors of “Foundations of Social Democracy,”and Michael Reschke from Freidrich-Eibert Stiftung led the seminar with the participation of members of parliament, economists, political scientists and sociologists.
The topics discussed included the theory of Social Democracy, European SD in the last two decades, re-inventing SD in Europe and the expectations and challenges of Social Democracy in Armenia. To see the photos from the seminar, click here.
Watch Yerkir Media’s coverage of the Hrayr Maroukhian Social Democracy Seminar, which took place at the Ani Plaza Hotel on October 29-30.
The Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation’s policy research study, “Social Reforms in Armenia” will be published in a few weeks time ahead of the November 8 conference to present the findings. Three policy papers will be included in this publication: Strategy for Reforms of the Health Sector of the Republic of Armenia, the Provision of Housing in Armenia, and Employment Sector Policy Strategy for the Republic of Armenia. The full version of the study will be available on-line following the conference.
Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation was featured on Asbarez.com, in an article entitled Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation: Social Democracy in Practice. See the full article below:
Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation: Social Democracy In Practice
A new foundation that promises something new in Armenia
YEREVAN—The Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation (HMF), a social democratic think tank founded in 2009 in the Republic of Armenia is a non-profit Armenian foundation committed to the development and advancement of public policy issues that espouse the basic values of social democracy through education, training, research, and regional and international cooperation.
The aims of the foundation are to contribute to and actively promote a comprehensive national, regional and international dialogue focusing on current political, economic and social developments and challenges, with a primary concentration on Armenia and the South Caucasus.
Among its many diverse projects, the Foundation produces academic research papers to serve in political decision-making and policy, organizes conferences and round tables, publishes studies on social democracy and conducts trainings for young political leaders.
Since its creation, the HMF has initiated and executed several key projects.
In order to address a number of deeply rooted problems in the Republic of Armenia and ensure the development of social democracy, sufficient policy research needs to be developed. For this reason the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation along with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany conducted a groundbreaking study on social reform in Armenia. The purpose of this study is to present an alternative vision for social reform in the country by developing feasible, financially sustainable policy options in the areas of housing, unemployment and health. Through a designated working group of experts focusing on each specific policy area, this study aims to implement the populations’ right to quality housing, employment and accessible and affordable health care. The Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation is currently in the final phase of publishing the final policy paper in Armenian and English and will present it to government officials, political parties, academics, non-governmental organizations and foundations and international organizations at a conference in November 2011 in Yerevan.
As an important means for the dissemination of social democratic principles, the Foundation recently translated and published “Foundations of Social Democracy.” This book, originally printed in German, serves to provide individuals with a better understanding of the values, goals and the meaning of social democracy in the 21st century. The book is available at the HMF offices in Yerevan and a full electronic version will also be available on its website www.maroukhianfoundation.org.
With the clear understanding that the youth have a key role to play in the empowerment of the country, the HMF organized a comprehensive three-day training seminar for twenty young political leaders in Dilijan, Armenia in May 2011. The training encompassed three main components for leadership building skills: Strategic Planning, Future Search and World Café. The strategic planning session taught participants how to define the goals and objectives of the youth organizations they were active in, as well as finding the most productive methods in implementing those goals. Later, the young leaders took part in Future Search, which outlined methods to develop alternative futures by finding diverse ways for solving problems. The final component titled World Café aimed to foster problem solving dialogue in unconventional settings such as coffee shops. After three intensive days of training, participants left the seminar equipped with innovative techniques and a clearer vision of how to effectively work within their youth organizations.
Recently, HMF received a grant from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to produce a six part mini-series about the problems, challenges and achievements of Armenian women entitled “Women in Armenia.” Through these six half hour segments, to be aired on Yerkir Media in the fall, HMF plans to highlight the difficulties encountered by women in private and public life while at the same time showcasing the positive impact women have in the democratic development of their society. The segment topics to be covered include, women in politics, women in business, women in armed conflict, domestic violence against women, sexual harassment against women and women and health care.
In October 2011, the Foundation will be conducting a special training on social democracy. This project will focus on the basics of social democracy; European SD in the last two decades; debates about the future of SD and its relevance for Armenia. One of the authors of the book, “Foundations of Social Democracy,” Christian Krell will lead the training with a co-trainer for political leaders in Yerevan. During the training, the current political and economic situation in Armenia will be discussed.
By conducting policy research, organizing training seminars and the dissemination of information, along with other innovative projects in the future, the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation will lay the foundations for long-term, systematic solutions to social, political and economic problems and will contribute to the development of more transparent, accountable, equitable and prosperous societies.
Visit the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation Web site for more information about its activitieshttp://www.maroukhianfoundation.org or find the foundation on Facebook at Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation.
The Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation has prepared a study entitled, “Social Reforms in Armenia,” which includes three groundbreaking policy papers for the healthcare, housing and employment sectors. The purpose of this study is be to present an alternative vision for social justice in the country by developing feasible, financially sustainable policy options. A conference to present the paper will take place on November 8, 2011 in Yerevan with the participation of political parties, civil society, advocacy groups and representatives of international organizations and foreign embassies.
The Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation will prepare a study entitled, “Social Reforms in Armenia.” The purpose of this study will be to present an alternative vision for social security in the country by developing feasible, financially sustainable policy options in the following four policy areas:
a) Housing b) Unemployment c) Health
Each policy study area will have a Working Group of experts with a Team Leader. At the end of the study, the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation will publish the final paper and present it to government officials, political parties, academics, non-governmental organizations and foundations and international organizations at a conference in November 2011 in Yerevan.
a) Housing Issues and the Prospects for Securing Social Housing in Armenia
Research Objectives and Goals
The objective of the research stems from a number of inter-connected problems Armenia is currently facing – economic, social, environmental, demographic, and from the necessity of resolving issues in urban planning and of disproportionate development of the regions and communities.
Presently, the housing problem is one of the most critical issues in Armenia. The absence of affordable, quality and well-managed housing has brought forth social and economic problems in Armenia. Among those problems, the following must be underscored – an aging population, the percentage of young families, overcrowded and old residential complexes, rise in out-migration (work-related and permanent), the low quality of social and public services, and the deterioration of the municipal housing economy.
The unprecedented increase of construction in the housing market of recent years in the Republic of Armenia has not been able to address or resolve housing issues for low or middle income families.
The urgency of the problem is conditioned by the absence of any state policy in Armenia of guaranteeing/securing social housing. In recent years, the state’s housing policy has been limited to only certain groups – homeless population from the earthquake zone (Spitak, 1988), military and academic staff whose housing issues have only been partially resolved.
This study is important because the government has not expressed readiness to develop a strategy for housing guarantees/provisions.
The goal of the proposed study is to implement the populations’ constitutional right to the improvement of their housing conditions; to secure affordable and quality housing to Armenia’s low and middle income families with their appropriate services; to create significant conditions to deflect the critical demographic situation in the country; to guarantee the security and long-term development of housing eco-systems including designing harmonic living spaces; to overcome the disproportionate development in the regions and finally to support regional development.
The research will give Armenia alternative approaches for organizing social housing mechanisms including rental units, cooperatives, and sales. Securing social housing will make it affordable for low and middle income families to rent or even purchase housing, realize state investments, include local population in building activities, and production of locally produced construction material.
As a result of the study, the Republic of Armenia will have a model upon which to resolve issues of housing and the securing of social housing for the population. The proposed policy will have several important results.
Addressing the serious issue of housing will have an impact on encouraging marriages and the birthrate. It will help decrease out migration and will provide better opportunities for migration to the country. It will help in the solidification of human capital and will be one of the prerequisites for significant development in the country.
b) Employment Sector Reform in the Republic of Armenia
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia came face to face with critical social and economic problems. As a result of shifts to the political, social and economic systems, problems such as unemployment and poverty emerged – phenomena which hereto for were unheard of in Armenia. The high levels of unemployment and poverty became a reality for a large swath of Armenian society.
Following independence the social-economic and political changes naturally had an effect on the population’s demographic which witnessed falling birth rates (compared to 1990) and out-migration, which left their mark on the make-up of society.
The other important characteristic of the labor market, which basically occupies a key place among the indicators of social economic phenomena, refers to the levels and structure of unemployment. Not only did the demand of the labor market shrink during the transition years, but the demand of the labor force was subjected to significant changes. This resulted in a disparity of supply and demand in the labor force, which in turn resulted in the emerging and deepening of structural unemployment.
The transition years also had an effect on the education system, which resulted in an imbalance between the labor force and the capacity and ability of the educational system to supply the labor market with the required specialists. This also presents as one of the main reasons for the disconnect between the supply and demand of the labor market.
One of the features characterizing the labor market is that the decline in jobs and the rise of unemployment do not correspond with macroeconomic trends. The analysis of economic indicators according to official statistics is that economic growth has been secured in Armenia not because of a rise in the level of employment but because of a rise in productivity. On the other hand however, economic growth was reflected not so much because of a rise in employment levels but because of a rise in income indexes.
In general, there is a great imbalance today in the labor market in terms of supply and demand, high levels of unemployment and shadow employment, and an unregulated out-migration of the labor force. This massive labor migration will have a long-term impact on the labor supply and in turn, on economic, social and demographic developments in general.
Taking into consideration the social and economic situation and trends in Armenia and utilizing international experience in labor/employment policies, it is imperative to design a multifaceted strategic policy for employment reforms.
As a result of the study, the report will include a model for a new development strategy for the proposed policy on employment, including principles, fundamental issues, direction and priorities of related agencies, corresponding legislation, organizational and institutional reforms, serves and their delivery mechanisms, and the expected social economic results of the potential beneficiaries of those services, their monitoring and evaluation systems, information assurance system, cooperation within the framework of social partnership and the fundamental mechanism in employment services sector and implementation of key measures.
c) Health Care System Development Strategy in Armenia in Short and Long Term Perspectives
Although there has been a more than 15 year period of health care sphere reforms and a permanent increase of state budget allocation for health care in Armenia, the system still needs significant improvement.
In conditions of decentralization and privatization of the health system, government regulative and management tools are very weak and there is an absence of quality assurance and control mechanisms.
State budget medical services (hospitals and outpatient care) financing system is not guaranteed free of charge access to those services. Taking into consideration the fact that a huge part of the population has low incomes and vulnerable groups of the population meet financial barriers in getting medical aid and services.
Preventative medical services need to dominate in terms of provision of medical care. Secondary and tertiary services are weak in terms of usage of modern medical equipment and technologies (diagnostic and treatments).
In addition, healthy lifestyles and public health education is in a very low stage. Specialized care dominates vs. prevention.
Objectives of the strategy:
Health care system belongs to the social sphere of countries. That is why a government takes responsibility to develop and to implement a socially oriented health policy and to ensure provision of accessible and free-of-charge medical services equally to all groups in society.
The main objective of this strategy is to implement basic principles of social equity and solidarity in the health care sector. Government takes responsibility for transparency of its policy and for guaranteeing the implementation of its policy in the sector.
Development of the system in terms of provision of accessible and high qualified medical services and the health sector services’ consumption (utilization) ideology and mechanism must be improved in terms of guaranteeing basic social principles.
The strategy aimed to be implemented for ten years and is distinguished in two phases: short term for upcoming five years and long term for the next five years.
Published in German, “Foundations of Social Democracy” addresses the question of what social democracy means in the 21st century. What are its core values? What are its goals? How can it be put into practice?
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This book can be read and used by anyone who wishes to play an active role in social democracy or has an interest in it. In “Foundations of Social Democracy,” you will encounter various approaches to social democracy. Freedom, justice, and solidarity – social democracy’s core values – serve as the starting point.
The book is now available in print (Armenian language version).
YEREVAN — On May 20-22, 2011 the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation organized a three-day seminar in the Armenian resort town of Dilijan for young Armenian political leaders. Twenty members of the Armenian Youth Federation and the Nikol Aghbalyan Student’s Union participated in the training conducted by Bjӧrn Kulp of the Training Academy of Germany.
The training encompassed three main components: Strategic Planning, Future Search and World Café. Utilizing interactive methods and techniques, Bjӧrn Kulp engaged the young leaders and encouraged them to explore a whole realm of possibilities with regard to setting a clearly defined vision for their respective organizations.
The first 1.5 days were spent learning about Strategic Planning as a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does and why it does it with a focus on the future. Setting strategy is about an organization’s objectives, setting goals and devising an approach to achieve them. Bjӧrn Kulp outlined the five steps of strategic planning: a) developing a work plan, b) articulating mission and vision, c) data generation/analysis (SWOT technique), d) strategic directions, and e) completing the written plan – strategic plan.
Future Search is based on a concept by futurologist Robert Jungk, which outlines methods to develop alternative futures, to find solutions for problems, to take decisions and the realization of actions and for cooperative working and holistic learning. The aim of Future Search is to make participants aware of their problems, ideas, wishes and concepts. Basically the idea of Future Search is to serve as a catalyst to develop new and creative ideas to solve problems in the future.
World Café, the final component of the training, is an innovative yet simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter. The idea was developed following the realization that most creative conversations are held during coffee breaks rather than in conferences. Therefore, in a coffee shop setting participants sit around tables and discuss a predetermined question/issue. This process allows conversations to link and build on each other as people then move between tables, cross-pollinate ideas and discover new insights into those questions or issues that are most important in their life, work or community. As a process the World Café can evoke and make visible the collective intelligence of any group thus increasing people’s capacity for effective action in pursuit of common aims.
After three intensive days of training, which provided new ideas, methods and techniques on how to set goals and achieve them, the participants traveled back to Yerevan with a new sense of purpose and a clearer vision of how to effectively work within their organizations.