A Kyrgyz TV series to challenge men’s world
When I entered this room, I realized that the decorations look very familiar to me. I recalled the scenery from a TV Channel 10 comedy sequel that is being screened once a week on the TV local channel. It resembles a ‘battle field’, where, according to the script, women are trying to stand for their voices to be heard and capacities valued. Sometimes, they win, sometimes they lose.
A scene from the "TV channel 10": disputes on women's representation in the Parliament.
A story-line features a women general director of the TV production studio who tries to encourage a young talented woman to run for a local election. The four staff members give the director hard times for doing so. Unfortunately, this scenario is not that rare in Kyrgyzstan, where patriarchy and gender stereotypes perpetuate a belief that participation in governance is a ‘men’s business’. To imagine what I mean take a look at a short cartoon prepared by Kyrgyz 705 art group.
Actor Aidina Kamchybekova perfectly features a company secretary Roza, who is gossiper and intriguer who tries to create scandals among the characters to push her own agenda forward and become an informal leader. “She is pushy, cunning, has her own things to promote, but at the same time, very insecure,” says Aidina. “I guess it all comes from your experience as a child, when the family atmosphere and the surroundings shout at you: ‘You are a girl! Your place is in the kitchen, you don’t have a choice, you don’t have a right…’ And what happens? She is fed up and she wants to be heard, no matter what it brings and how she does it. I would say my character is a desperate woman who needs to be recognized.”
“Enhancing women opportunities to ‘take so-called male chairs’ is a very sensitive issue in Kyrgyzstan,” says Nurbek Yuldashev acting as assistant to the director, “the character that I am playing in the series is doing his best to replace a woman director whatever it takes him - he is a man, he has to be!”
I agree with Nurbek, it is tricky to challenge society to look at the old norms and practices. Humor however helps to digest the most challenging topics. Comedies help to catch the message through laughter and fun, instead of feeling upset. Hopefully, this innovative approach will also lead to behavioral change in Kyrgyzstan.
‘I think this young shooting crew was able to communicate the main idea in providing women and girls opportunities in their endeavors. I hope it would help women and men equally participate in decision-making to build more fair and democratic society’, says Elmira Shishkaraeva, UNDP Country Programme Gender Coordinator in Kyrgyzstan.
I won’t reveal how the sequel ends here, watch it yourself and share your thoughts with us!
Let me say that surely we are far behind in coming close to 50x50 goal, but I would stress on the personal commitment. Now, sit down and think, are you?
Gender mainstreaming Specialist