Central Asian regimes trample women’s rights : the effects of political transition on the status of women in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan
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The five Central Asian states have all experienced difficult economic and societal transitions following their political independence in 1992 and face uncertain futures. This is especially true with regard to the significant issue of women’s rights. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, women began losing ground as traditional gender stereotypes returned to the newly independent countries of Central Asia. In the absence of Soviet rule, women have found themselves increasingly unable to advocate for education, equitable working conditions, and political representation. Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan have faced their individual challenges since their independence. Yet, my research recognizes their commonalities, which I ascribe to similar types of political regimes. All five countries endured dictatorship after the collapsed of the Soviet authoritarian state. The existing governmental leaders lack the ambition to enforce the gender related laws and policies aimed towards improving the status of women. Since independence, each Central Asian country has tried to define its national identity. So far, this process has resulted in the deterioration of women’s rights based on redefined cultural norms that prioritize the women’s role as a housewife and mother. This tendency is reinforced by leaders in these countries, as well as a lack of a previously established socioeconomic system, including child care and elder care institutions. In order to achieve gender equality, where women enjoy equal opportunities as men and contribute to the social, economic, and political development of their countries, women must be aware of their rights and encouraged to participate fully in political and economic decision-making. Some suggestions will be made following the analyses of the women’s conditions in three selected areas: employment, education, and women’s political representation.