How Economic Empowerment Helped a Rural Kyrgyz Women to Become a Deputy at Local Council

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Nuriya Temirbek kyzy, a deputy of a local council in At-Bashy rayon, Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, a 40-old mother of three children

I used to be a housewife, sitting at home, doing chores around the house, taking care of my children and husband. During my free time, I produced local handcrafts to earn some money to support my family. Starting from 2014 I joined the Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme (RWEE) and started working together with UN Women and other development partners on raising awareness of rural women of their rights, solving women’s issues, building their capacities and economically empowering them so that women’s voices would be heard. 

Within the joint programme, I was trained and capacitated together with other 1,500 rural women and gained leadership skills and learned to do effective business. In particular, we were trained on gender-responsive budgeting, effective farming, handcrafting, bakery, sewing and many other trainings on women’s economic empowerment. After a while I became more economically empowered, got power in decision-making, learned to socialize and work with society, got more independence. 

My view of life changed. I realized that I can also make a difference, change for the better not only within the family but in my community and society in general. Soon after people got to know me I realized and believed in myself that many women support me and I decided to run for local elections.

In 2016, I was elected Deputy of a local council in Ak-Jara village, Naryn/Kyrgystan, with the help of this programme. I got 225 votes in total, which placed me fifth out of 39 candidates. This gave me a lot of strength and vitalized me to further work for women’s rights, solve problems faced by rural women and empower them.

In 2014, UN Women, WFP, FAO and IFAD joined forces to implement the rural women's economic empowerment project aiming at increasing income opportunities and enhancing leadership of rural women. Nuriya is one of the 1,500 rural women running productive economic activities in 45 villages with programme's support to improve livelihoods, food security and nutrition of families. 

Of these 1,500 women, 805 women are running small-scale businesses, and have increased their income by 29.5% on average. Analysis of these businesses demonstrates that women's products and services have a high impact on their empowerment, taking into consideration time requirements to operate business, women's control over resources, decision-making on the use of proceeds, and profitability. RWEE is a good example of a holistic approach to promote gender equality, tackle rural poverty, and improve food security. Evidence shows that women with good economic background have a higher chance to invest in their electoral campaign and be elected. Being economically empowered Nuriya too was elected to the local council and is now advocating for rural women's rights.


Photographer & Videographer Credit: UN Women/Meriza Emilbekova