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LESSONS OF WOMEN’S ACTIVISM IN KYRGYSTAN (2005-2008) ANARA MOLDOSHEVA for AWID Forum “Power of Movements ” 14-17 November 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "LESSONS OF WOMEN’S ACTIVISM IN KYRGYSTAN (2005-2008) ANARA MOLDOSHEVA for AWID Forum “Power of Movements ” 14-17 November 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 LESSONS OF WOMEN’S ACTIVISM IN KYRGYSTAN ( ) ANARA MOLDOSHEVA for AWID Forum “Power of Movements ” November 2008

2 2005 – an important period for women’s activism in Kyrgyzstan. Why was it important? The Parliamentary elections held in February 2005 under President Akaev resulted in nil representation for women. These elections have been described as the dirtiest in the country’s history. In March 2005 a wave of protests began around Kyrgyzstan in which women were very active and especially at local level. On the 24 th of March after big demonstrations in the capital Bishkek President Akaev (first president of Kyrgyzstan after independence) fled the country. After these events a heated discussion began about the role of women at demonstrations and pickets. Some people said they were being used. Others defended their right to be active and express their views.

3 Soon after, an extraordinary national womens forum was held at which a unified platform of action was adopted. One of the most key demands in the platform was for the new President (Kurmanbek Bakiev) to agree special measures to improve womens representation in government..

4 As a result of women’s lobbying and special meetings with the President, the following decisions were made by the new government:

5 1.To appoint a special representative of the President in Parliament on gender issues

6 To include special measures to support women’s representation in government in the new Country Development Strategy 3. Inclusion of a gender quota (for women, youth and ethnic minorities) in the new Election Code 2. To include special measures to support women’s representation in government in the new Country Development Strategy 3. Inclusion of a gender quota (for women, youth and ethnic minorities) in the new Election Code

7 However in this same period a number of other steps taken by reactionary elements in government (deputies, the Ministry of Justice, Ombudsman etc) directly threatened women’s rights: 1. Parliament discussed proposals to reduce abortion rights and to legalize polygamy (both these proposals were defeated) 2. The new draft Constitution of the country excluded a definition of the state as secular in character (this definition was reinstalled after pressure from CS and women’s organizations) 3. A campaign began around “traditional family values”, organized by religious and traditional groups. In practice, unofficial polygamy, bride stealing and early marriages continued - and still continue

8 Faced with these challenges from traditional elements in society, women’s organizations were forced to work even more closely with each other. Various methods and tactics were used: 1. Legal initiatives were adopted in alliance with other groups - for example HR groups, youth groups 2. Campaigns to attract the attention of the public - for example: - A celebration of Women’s Day 8 th of March with more political slogans (usually in Kyrgyzstan this holiday has little ideological content) - Actions against legalization of polygamy and for right to abortion and a secular state - Letter and signature campaigns to attract international attention

9 Public campaigns: Alternative 8 March; We are for a secular state!; No to polygamy!

10 “Zebra”- the national campaign (action) for inclusion of special measures for supporting women (women’s quota) in the Election Code “Zebra”- the national campaign (action) for inclusion of special measures for supporting women (women’s quota) in the Election Code

11 1.Developing a common women’s platform; 2. Creation of an alliance with other NGO networks and political parties 3. Lobby actions on local and national levels Conclusion: between unity and diversity In the Parliamentary elections in November 2007 women gained 23 seats from a total of 90. This is the highest proportion in Central Asia today. But once again there were violations during the election process. The president‘s party won 70% of the seats. Key lessons/successes from women’s activism 1.Developing a common women’s platform; 2. Creation of an alliance with other NGO networks and political parties 3. Lobby actions on local and national levels Challenges - The political struggle for women’s rights continues. Some NGO’s do not want to work with the government. Others are trying to work closely with the new women deputies. - The women’s movement is more varied than we realized before. We have to talk/debate more about our differences and what unites us. - Then women’s organizations will be able to develop clearer political positions and find allies more easily.


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