In the press
Women cope with transition in Kyrgyzstan
by Jeanette Ostendorf
05 June 1998
Osh, Kyrgyzstan: Sharapat Abduloeve is 75 years old and she’s from Kara-Dykan village, about 60 km from Osh here in Kyrgyzstan. She wanted the poor children of her village to be able to attend kindergarten, and to do so all year round, through the harsh winter too. She received US$ 1,000 from our project to buy and install heating equipment so that the Ak-Shoola Kindergarten could do just that.
There was a need for this kindergarten because in the village there are many children without parents. They live with relatives, but most of these relatives are not working and thus have little money to provide any support. With the kindergarten open, the children would be able to attend without having to pay and they would receive food for the whole day. But there were problems. Shortly after the kindergarten had been renovated and opened with 78 children attending, government took the building over for its own use. So that, if the children wanted to attend the school, they had to pay. The poorer children were left with no school.
"I quit, I will not go on" said Sharapat Abduloeve when the kindergarten was taken from her. But all the people of the village came to her and told her how necessary the kindergarten was: she regained her hope and desire to work only for the children. Her son decided to buy her a building for her own private kindergarten. This she has started to remodel and when that’s done she will install heating. To provide food for the children, she found many women to grow rice in the fields and last autumn that rice was harvested. They will sell some of it to pay for remodelling the building and give the rest to feed the poor and the children at the school. An example of how people can work together for a better life.
Because women like Sharapat Abduloeve were bearing a disproportionate share of the social and economic hardships in the Kyrgyz Republic’s transition period, the National Women in Development Bureau was opened in Bishkek on 2 November 1995 under a UNDP project. The long-term objectives of the Bureau are to establish national machinery for an effective policy and programme on the status of women; and to support pilot programmes of Kyrgyz NGOs which focus on integrating rural women in sustainable projects aimed at increasing their participation in small income-generating programmes.
The project has two primary beneficiaries: the State Commission of Family and Women’s Affairs, and women’s NGOs which launch initiatives like the kindergarten. I have been working for the Bureau for the last year as a UNV and have been involved in training and assisting the State Commission to define its role within government, to gain legitimacy among the other governmental agencies and to fulfil its role effectively. Also I have worked with the NGOs to train and assist them in formulating and carrying out projects.
Monitoring these projects has given me insight on how the women in the Kyrgyz Republic are coping and adjusting in this difficult transition period. One of the first initiatives I monitored came from the Uzdar Girls Club in Jol village, a rural village about 30 km from Bishkek. It was carried out by Bubuzura Adjumudinova, a woman from the village who saw its problems and decided to use her knowledge and skills to train and educate village girls aged 10 to 12 in the traditional crafts. Bubuzura received only US$ 600, as a grant from the UNDP-assisted project, to buy the supplies needed. She even used her own money to buy materials. The object was to revive the knowledge of traditional Kyrgyz crafts and to develop skills for employment.
The results have been positive: the girls learned how to make the traditional Kyrgyz crafts and then made money by selling their handiwork in galleries in Bishkek. During the Soviet period most of the traditional crafts had been forgotten because it was more acceptable and easier to buy goods in the shops. "Most young women", said Bubuzura, "did not know how to make the crafts, because the information was not passed down from their mothers. The last generation to really work in handcrafts had been the grandmothers. Also there was the Soviet influence in terms of what was important knowledge". But now this renewed interest in traditional techniques is having a positive influence in the community: the young people have a way to earn money for their families and are not on the pavement selling goods or causing problems. It is also helping the young people to develop pride in their village and the traditions of their country.
I feel fortunate to be part of this project and to see how women are dealing with their economic hardships.
|Home | Contact us | FAQs | Search | Sitemap | UNDP Information Disclosure Policy|
|UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)|