Powerful women and girls from Turkmenistan advocate for gender equality and women empowerment
Over the last decades there has been huge advancement in achieving gender equality.
Over the last decades there has been huge advancement in achieving gender equality but women and girls around the world still encounter challenges and difficulties in various spheres of life. The world is not on track to achieve SDG 5 that calls for achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls and failure to do so will result in being unable to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
Women and girls are often perceived as “weak”. Gender role expectations generally attributed to them is a hearth keeper, a wife and a mother taking caring of family, children and household. Women and girls are often excluded from economic, social, political, technological and digital domains of life. Their home care work is still unpaid most of times. This predominating gender gap exacerbates already existing economic and social inequalities, which makes women and girls even more vulnerable to a rapidly changing world of transformative technologies.
But some very active and brave women and girls in Turkmenistan have challenged this, given that by law, they are entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of all of their human rights.
To showcase their success, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day UN Turkmenistan hosted a Dialogue with women to underscore women and girls’ achievements in all aspects of life in Turkmenistan, including in innovation, technology, education, business, mass media and healthcare. The dialogue provided an opportunity for women and girls to exchange their experience, reflect on their drawbacks, highlight their success against the odds as well as inspire other women and girls.
To set the scene for the frank exchange, the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, in cooperation with OHCHR, UNFPA, UNICEF and IOM invited the women leaders from the Government and diplomatic community as keynote speakers. They talked about the importance of women empowerment for the country’s development. Their quotes below sent an encouraging signal to the women and girls in the crowded UN Conference Hall to be strong and persistent in their aspirations.
“Gender equality is one of the priorities of development in Turkmenistan and the country has made significant progress in achieving gender parity in social, political and economic spheres of life”, noted Deputy Foreign Minister Ms. Myahri Bashimova.
“When facing stalemate, stay resilient, improve your skills, don’t be obsessed over a sole purpose, look at new opportunities”, Isabelle Guisnel, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the French Republic, said. “If I hadn’t succeeded in becoming ambassador, I would have found something else. There are so many fantastic challenges for women.”
Then the floor was opened to interventions from the audience. In their statements, they shared their challenges and drawbacks towards their accomplishments.
Shabibi Osmanova, typhlopedagogue at Rehabilitation Center.
“I have had problems with eyesight since my childhood but it didn’t stop me from realizing my dream to enter university and become a teacher. When I was at high school, I kept saying that I wanted to continue my studies but no one believed that I could do it as my eyesight was getting worse and it was difficult for me to read and to write. I entered the Belarusian State Pedagogical University named after "Maxim Tank" Faculty of Special Education. And I was the only student with visual impairments. By the end of the first course, my eye disease began to progress and throughout my student years, I had many surgeries on my eye. But this did not prevent me from studying. My path to becoming a teacher-defectologist was full of obstacles and drawbacks but I never gave up. The most important thing is to believe in yourself.”
Yanyl Kujukbayeva, Head of Cancer Prevention Department, Dr. of Medical Sciences.
“Women’s health and well-being lay the foundation not only for her family’s health but also for the community’s health. Therefore, meeting women’s health needs is an investment to the country’s future prosperity”.
Irina Imamkuliyeva, a journalist for the Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper.
“I’ve never had an idea of becoming a journalist. After graduating from the Turkmen State University, I stayed there and started to work as a teacher. I did research, wrote articles, and worked on my Ph.D. thesis, which I successfully defended in 1996. I began to work for a newspaper in 2001, the first assignment I was given was to write an article on the book “Rukhnama” written by the first President of Turkmenistan. And it was thanks to many years of experience in science that helped me write an interesting article. Two decades have passed since then, hundreds of articles have been written on various topics, and I still love what I do. I am deeply convinced that only through self-development in various spheres and hard work we can achieve professional success.”
Aynabat Begjanova, owner of a consulting company.
“The hardest thing while opening my own start-up was that it required hard work and my personal participation at all stages of a business registration, while at the same time I had to fulfill my duties as mother of kids that needed care and a lot of attention. In spite of everything, I managed to overcome all the obstacles and make things happen. Never doubt your abilities and never underestimate yourself. Women are strong! They are mothers, keepers of the hearth and creators of many beautiful things. If you have ideas, it’s worth realizing them so that you don’t regret in the future!”
Mahri Klycheva, TechWomen.
“I always had a dream to transfer knowledge and experience to the next generation and thus, I started to work with children in robotics and Scratch programming. At the beginning of this journey, I had a fear of failure and a lot of doubts as I had no experience in this field. But over time and hard work I gained confidence and became the first certified female digital skills trainer from USAID and the Union of Economists. If you have an idea cultivate it, and it will give you an opportunity and chance to change your life for the better. If it doesn't work, try again.”
These inspiring stories were just a few shared during the event. They have triggered vivid discussions among the participants during the event and outside the conference hall. Some 80 participants from all walks of life left the meeting with the firm conviction that they need to spread the spirit of the meeting among their communities. They were also determined to play their own role in empowering women and girls throughout the country.
It is worth noting that the event was preceded by an exhibition of arts and crafts, fashion clothes made and designed by women, including women and girls with disabilities. The exhibition also featured hi-tech solutions invented by young women students from the Oghuz Khan University for Engineering and Technology. The exhibits demonstrated how women and girls can be creative and productive if empowered with knowledge, skills and initiative.