ASHGABAT — Turkmenistan, in collaboration with United Nations (U.N.) Women, is taking major steps in empowering women to meet the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is a country located in Central Asia with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan as its neighbors.
Turkmenistan was a part of Soviet Union until its independence in 1991, and is known as an autocratic country with heavy restrictions on media and internet. The country is closed from the outside world, and as a consequence, gender inequality is prominent and discrimination against women is usually hushed up.
According to a U.N. report, gender equality is not implemented properly even though it’s recognized under the country’s law. There is also an absence of proper government records of violent incidents against women which demonstrates how the acquisition of women’s empowerment in Turkmenistan is not easy.
In 2015, the country adopted a National Action Plan (NAP) that entailed “state guarantees of equal rights and equal opportunities for women and men.” Although Turkmenistan gave formal consent to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1997, the country has never complied with the protocols of CEDAW.
However, with the adoption of National Action Plan, the country targets the following issues among other special programs and activities that focus on the socio-political status and educational development of women:
- Improving legislation in accordance with CEDAW recommendations and gender equality principles.
National procedures to promote gender equality.
- Greater involvement of women in social, political and professional life.
- Identifying important areas to address gender-based violence and working with women in detention.
- Promoting access to health service and adult education.
In April 2016, U.N. Women and representatives from Turkmenistan ministries and national agencies came together to discuss the importance of allocating funds for gender equality and women’s empowerment in Turkmenistan and also analyzed the gender-based budget. It was one of the first joint initiatives on their part to achieve the goals of SDGs of:
- Giving women equal opportunities in education and job market.
- Abolishing child marriage.
- Protecting women and girls against violence through implementation of law.
- Preventing female genital mutilation.
- Involving women in political and decision-making position.
- Reduce the gender gap in high paid jobs.
- Promoting awareness of health education among women.
A follow-up meeting took place in July 2016 between the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and the National Institute of Democracy and Human-Rights. The agenda of the discussion was to adopt a framework of monitoring tools that will track the progress of NAP and measure their results.
In October 2016 on International Girl’s day, UNICEF arranged a friendly football match dedicated to the cause of empowering girls and encouraging people to recognize the potential of girl’s education and provide them with equal access to sports, science and higher education.
Women in Turkmenistan still face the problem of a typical traditional patriarchal society, but international organizations like the United Nations work persistently with the government for taking necessary steps for combatting such powers and fostering women’s empowerment in Turkmenistan.
– Mahua Mitra