A Peek into Gender Parity in Central Asia
The Central Asian states Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are unique and face individual challenges in advancing human rights, principally women’s rights, however, there are commonalities and shared experiences which link the region. The transition to market based economies and towards parliamentary democracies has impacted enormously on the lives of all in the region and women in particular. The situation of women inside each country is difficult. The changes to social services provisions especially concerning health and education impact upon gender relations and women’s economic positioning and their social contributions which will carry on into the next generations. Women face negative social stereotyping and widespread discrimination, though such difficulties are not confined to Central Asia, they are found across the globe. The historical backdrop of Soviet rule and the moves each nation has since made from the communist era have provided both opportunities and hindrances for women as they try to assert their rights and partake in society as equals. The governments of Central Asia have taken positive steps to enhance the legal status of women and provide for the prospect of gender equality. However, the momentum gained through legislative reform can be juxtaposed with a revival in each nation of ‘traditional’ values which degrade women. Implementation of social policies and regulatory transformations aimed at securing gender parity has been difficult in all national settings. Women in the region are poorly informed or not educated about their rights. Further when women do strive to assert their rights, their access to legal and social assistance is often very limited and sometimes restricted. In trying to understand the situation of women in Central Asia one of the most glaring gaps is the lack of empirical data or evidence based research. Sustainable and substantive progress towards gender equality cannot be made without such information.
The book The Changing Status of Women in Central Asia: A Comparative Study of Kazakhastan and Uzbekistan, written by Mukta Tanwar, critically observes the status of women in Central Asia after 1990s. The effects of Soviet legacy in the present context are also analysed at extent. In contemporary transition people in these states are facing many problems including revival of religion, new democratic political order, capitalist economic system and traditional social system. These new changes have both negative and positive effects over the lives of Women also. Based on author’s Ph.D thesis and financially supported by ICSSR, New Delhi, the book makes a modest attempt to compare the differences in contemporary position of Kazakh and Uzbek women despite of their common USSR legacy and Islamic society. Though the book broadly deals with the position of women in Central Asia, but at the same time its focus is to study Kazakh and Uzbek women. In a nutshell this book is an interesting read and aptly describes the plight of women in Central Asia in general and Kazhakstan and Uzbekistan in particular.
By Ashok kumar