Civil Society Representatives Discuss Priorities for Women’s Empowerment in Tajikistan With UN Women’s Deputy Regional Director

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Fifteen representatives of civil society organizations in Tajikistan met Elisa Fernández Saenz, recently appointed as UN Women Deputy Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, to discuss priorities for the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country.

At the meeting, that took place in Dushanbe on 13th June, Fernández had an opportunity to meet UN Women’s civil society partners to discuss key priority areas of their work, learn about their achievements and discuss the challenges they face.

“Civil society is one of UN Women’s most important constituencies. Our partnership with women’s civil society organizations is crucial to ensure no woman or girl is left behind. I’m thrilled to see such a vibrant and active women’s movement working closely with UN Women in Tajikistan,” emphasized Fernández.

Civil society voices

“In 1994, when amendments to the Constitution were being discussed in the country, our organization was the first to suggest writing Article 17 as “men and women are equal,” shared Guljahon Bobosadikova, founder of Association of Women with Higher Education, one of the first women’s organizations in the country. Today, Bobosadikova leads the Coalition of Tajik NGOs “From Equality De-Jure to Equality De-Facto.”

“We need to make every effort to eliminate existing stereotypes and norms that lead to gender-based violence. We also need to criminalize domestic violence, and this is also stated in the recommendations of the UN Committee on CEDAW for our country,” said Shahlo Abdunabizoda, Country Director of the NGO Jahon Coalition Transparency for Development, dealing with the prevention of violence against women and girls.

Nargis Saidova, head of the NGO Gender and Development, said: “Realizing that there is a shortage of gender activists and experts in the field of gender equality in the country, our organization established the country’s first School of Gender Activists, within the framework of the Spotlight Initiative. Thanks to UN Women’s support, we fight legal illiteracy, empower women and support them to become leaders in society. This is very important, and we need to expand the horizons of cooperation.”

 “I hope and believe that I can become a good role model and contribute not only to the fight for women’s rights, but also to improve our society. It is gratifying that we already see young people and men in our ranks, we feel the support of the older generation and our government. I really hope that support programs and projects will continue, as these are windows and doors to a bright future,” shared Aziza Tukhtabayeva, a young activist who attended the School of Gender Activists.

“I constantly draw attention to the stigma against women and girls living with HIV that still exists and the lack of opportunities for them to enter medical school and work in this field. Having HIV should not be a barrier to getting an education,” shared Takhmina Khaidarova, a human rights activist and head of the Tajik Network of Women Living with HIV, fighting for rights and equality in education and workplaces for people with HIV.

“It is very important to introduce economic initiatives for rural women. By supporting rural women’s businesses with start-ups, educational initiatives, we can empower them, and even reduce gender-based violence,” noted Timur Nurlobekov, Deputy Director of the NGO Fidokor.

“In order to achieve common goals, including in the elimination of violence against women and girls, it is important to have intersectoral cooperation and effective interaction between the responsible parties provided for by the law on domestic violence prevention,” said Ahmadzoda Azim Ahmad, Director of the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia Tajikistan.

“In 2022, our organization conducted an analysis of the list of occupations restricted to women. The support of UN Women on this issue is highly appreciated,” noted Mukhammadjon Sharipov, representative of the NGO Office of Civil Freedoms. Following advocacy efforts by civil society and UN Women in Tajikistan, the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Employment of Population is expected to revise and eliminate a list of occupations restricted to women in the national Labour Code.

Source : UNWOMEN