Promoting women's empowerment and gender equality in Kyrgyzstan: Zeinep’s story 

Zeinep Eshmuratova, works for the Center for Development and Protection of Vulnerable Groups. She lives in the village of Aikol in the Karasu district of the Kyrgyz Republic and is a public figure, passionate about promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in her community. However, she has faced several obstacles in her work, such as a lack of information and awareness among women in her community about their rights, lack of women’s representation in decision-making processes, and cases where women’s equality is not taken into consideration.   

Overcoming obstacles and advocating for systemic changes 

Zeinep Eshmuratova, who works for the Center for Development and Protection of Vulnerable Groups in Kyrgyzstan

To address these obstacles, Zeinep believes that systemic changes are necessary at the community level. This includes strengthening women’s knowledge of the basics of municipal self-government and local self-government (LSG) bodies and their legislative frameworks. Zeinep advocates for training and mentoring women on social norms existing in the community to gradually lead to the establishment of peace and equality. 

To increase the role of women in building peace and equality, and to challenge patriarchal norms, Zeinep emphasises the importance of involving women in social activities and promoting community collaboration, joint decision-making, and an open approach to work.  

Women’s empowerment can’t be achieved through top-down approaches implemented by the state or political parties. Instead, it should be accomplished by strengthening society’s recognition of the role women can play and challenging ideas of women that block their participation. Another effective method would be to work with LSGs, promoting joint decision-making with community members, working cooperatively as a team and making powerful decisions at the local level. It is important to also recognise the role of culture in shaping attitudes and beliefs. By integrating cultural practices that promote gender equality and non-discrimination, women can be empowered to take a more active role in society. 

To achieve this goal, Zeinep proposes establishing a school for women leaders at the level of local self-government or in active cooperation with the local women’s council and female leaders of LSG. This will help to strengthen women’s leadership skills and encourage their active participation in peacebuilding social projects. 

Zeinep is inspired by Venera Kubatovna Sabirova, who cannot remain aloof to things that happen in society. Together, Zeinep and Venera exchange ideas, discuss and try to solve big challenges. Zeinep believes that civil society activists must make a significant contribution and cooperate with each other to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality in their community.