Rural women met with the deputies of the Jogorku Kenesh and heads of the government bodies to discuss the role of rural women in the country’s development

UNCT-KG--UN Women-Rural Womens Day

More than 100 women activists from all parts of Kyrgyzstan have come together today to meet with the deputies of the Jogorku Kenesh, heads of the Government Office, Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Melioration and other relevant government agencies to discuss the role of rural women in the country’s development.

Devoted the celebration of the Rural Women’s Day in Kyrgyzstan, the meeting has been organised with the support of UN Women, UN World Food Programme (WFP), UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD).

During the meeting, special attention has been paid to practical as well as systemic barriers preventing rural women from participation in local decision-making processes. According to women-activists, despite an extensive legislative base guaranteeing equal access to municipal service for all citizens and dozens of social initiatives aimed at increasing rural women's equal participation and representation in local decision-making processes, progress towards gender equality in decision making positions at the local level has been stalled, and even reversed. Over the last decade, for instance, while the proportion of women elected to local councils has declined from 24% to 10%, the proportion of women holding management positions in local government bodies has declined up to 4,7%. Among the heads of household farms, women represent only 19%.  

“In local decision-making processes, we, women, pay more attention to social factors that support holistic and sustainable processes in our communities. In doing so, we try to o take everyone’s perspective into consideration. This way, we seek to solve the outstanding social issues affecting the lives of many living in rural areas. Unfortunately, as there are few women represented in local decision-making processes, our voices are not enough. Unfortunately, either due to existing harmful social norms or unwillingness of our authorities, women cannot realise their full leadership potential. Thus, it is necessary to develop and support special measures that address both the practical and structural constraints to women’s voice, decision-making and leadership at the local level”, said Nuria Temirbek kyzy, deputy of Ak-Jar local council.

In this respect, women-activists called on both the Jogorku Kenesh and all other government bodies to integrate gender equality into all policy-making and planning processes and in current or future  government development strategies and programmes, recognizing that women’s empowerment is a key driver of country’s economic growth and development.

“Enhancing both the leadership and entrepreneurial capacities of rural women not only helps to improve rural women’s household living conditions but also solves a range of socio-economic issues existing in rural areas”, said Taalaikul Isakunova, Minister of Labour and Social Development. “We firmly believe that rural women's empowerment is key to our country’s economic development and transformation, and this regard, we will continue our efforts to support women to fulfil their potential”.

Women activists have also noted the importance of promoting women’s economic empowerment. According to them, women’s economic participation helps to drive growth not only at personal or household levels but also at community and nation levels. In their opinion, in the context of equal opportunities in agriculture (e.g., access to land, credit and other agricultural productive recources, adequate social support services, etc.,), rural women can increase agricultural productivity by 30-70%, and, as such, generate personal income by 30%.

«There is a widespread saying that rural poverty has a woman's face. It may once have been true, but I believe that soon a woman’s face will firmly be associated with a rural business. Our achievements prove that rural women play a critical role in the rural economy as well as development. If we have had more opportunities, we could have achieved more changes. In this respect, it is necessary to provide rural women equal access to and control over economic and financial resources”, said Sanabar Karataeva, head of the women’s cooperative “Iskra”.

Participants have also discussed issues regarding the  government’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development have reported on progress made in the implementation of final recommendations as well as follow-up to the resolutions issued in the course of national conferences held within the framework of the celebration of the Rural Women’s Day in Kyrgyzstan in previous years.

«UN is committed to support the Kyrgyz government's efforts to improve the situation of women in rural areas», said Dorjee Kinlay, Co-Chairman of the Supervisory Council of the Joint Programme “Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic” and  FAO Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic. “Empowering rural women contributes to sustainable economic growth and food safety. Hence, it is necessary to continue to work with this task in a structured and systematic way so the country’s future generation can witness and live in a prosperous and just Kyrgyzstan”.

 

The National Conference devoted to Rural Women’s Day in Kyrgyzstan has been organised within the framework of the joint programme ‘Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic” supported by UN Women, UN World Food Programme (WFP), UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and funded by the governments of Norway and Sweden.

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For further information, please contact Zhypara Turmamatova, National Coordinator of the Joint Programme ‘Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic” at: zhypargul.turmamatova@unwomen.org