On July 18, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmonov, in an interview with persons appointed to senior positions, said that one of the priorities of the state’s personnel policy is to train young personnel and to involve women and girls in responsible state and public affairs. Of the twelve people who were appointed to leadership positions, seven are women, which is evidence of the growing status of women in society. And this is not the first step of the president in this direction.
The Constitution of Tajikistan proclaims the equality of men and women, but in reality women have limited opportunities to exercise their rights in comparison with men. During the abrupt change of the social structure in the early 90s, accompanied by the military events of the civil war, when brute military power was of decisive importance in disputes over power, advantageous positions or possession of property, women were ousted from many spheres of public life. Their labor participation, representativeness in government and politics, and, accordingly, the social status of women, their participation in government, has sharply decreased. Patriarchal traditions began to be revived, including religious views condemning the public life of women and offering women a place only at the hearth, raising children and working only within their families.
“As soon as the party-state recruitment machine broke down, which provided for a 30% quota for women in government positions, active displacement of women from positions at all levels began. Moreover, it was observed even at the middle level, in positions traditionally occupied by women in charge of culture, health care, and family, ”said a member of the parliament of Tajikistan, Galiya Rabieva.
A valuable specialist for the country, a woman who had previously successfully worked as a technologist at one of the country's largest wineries, and who had, besides the official salary, large illegal incomes, remained unemployed during the civil war. “Strangers came to my office with a gun, and quietly offered to leave work. I realized that this was a real danger, and I fulfilled their demand, ”she says. Despite the fact that the situation has now improved significantly, she did not manage to find work in her specialty, and she has been engaged in petty trading in the Dushanbe market for 12 years.
To change the current situation, it took intervention of the country's president, Emomali Rakhmonov, who issued a special decree in December 1999, according to which the appointment of women to one of the deputy heads of ministries, state committees, regions, cities and districts, settlements, court bodies and prosecutor’s offices became mandatory , universities, departments, institutions and other structures.
Galiya Rabieva, who worked as senior adviser on personnel policy in 1992–2005, said: “After the Presidential Decree was issued, our job was to lower the directives for women to be appointed school principals, collective farm chairmen, deputy district chairmen. We broke established traditions and asked for an annual report on the implementation of these directives. ”
After this Decree, the number of women in government at all levels increased on average from 8% to 14%. And yet, there have been no major significant changes in the situation: now there are no women ministers in the country. In order to achieve de facto equality, women must overcome a number of economic, social, religious, cultural and other barriers. And if the sex ratio is almost parity: men - 50.3%, women - 49.7%, then in the field of employment there is an ever-increasing gender imbalance in the participation of women in public life, and in particular in politics.
This opinion is supported by the assistant of the OSCE Center in Dushanbe on gender issues, Dilorom Haydarov. “Our society is dominated by stereotypes that represent a woman only as a mother, wife, mistress of the house. And often a woman who is educated, has the necessary work experience and leadership abilities, is faced with the choice that her husband offers to her, and sometimes all his relatives: career or family. And in such situations, a woman almost always chooses a family, she believes. And this is true, because in Tajik the word “Beva” (single woman) has a hint of derogation, implying negative qualities of character or physical disabilities, as a result of which she was not “married” or got a divorce. And so a single woman in Tajik society feels enduring discomfort, and prefers peace of mind to interesting work.
Guldasta Karimova, a resident of the Vakhsh village of the Bokhtar district, a former teacher and now working on her plot of land, believes that women rush to power only because they will have a lot of money and an easy, and far from always perfect, life. “I will not vote for women, for me personally they will not do anything good,” she says. Approximately the same judgments are expressed by many other rural residents, who constitute the majority in agrarian Tajikistan.
According to the Committee on Women and Family Affairs, today in Tajikistan only 15% of government positions are held by women. Moreover, they have their own sphere - 24% of women are civil servants, the majority of women - 58% are involved in health care, sports and social protection.
The formation of a multi-party system in Tajikistan coincided with the civil war, and the participation of women in this process was insignificant because of the dangers that threatened at that time. In the 2000 elections, the number of women candidates in single-mandate constituencies was just over 10% of their total number, and there was not a single party headed by a woman.
In the parliamentary elections of February 2005, it was also noticeable that not all political parties provide women and men with equal chances for access to the world of politics. In the single-mandate constituencies out of 150 nominated women there were only 10, that is, their number dropped to 6.7%.
One of the reasons for such passivity of women in the electoral process was the difficulty in registering, especially for women speaking for opposition parties.
Margarita Khegay, head of the Traditions and Modernity NGO, claims that only half of the potential candidates were able to nominate themselves.
Human rights activist Faizinisso Vokhidova said that last year, during the parliamentary elections, when registering her candidacy from the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, the Election Commission of the Bobodjongafurov district of Sughd region created obstacles for her because of the allegedly unfair property statement. The car, owned by her spouse, became the reason for the refusal of registration of Vohidova as a deputy candidate to parliament. And then a criminal case was brought against her, and Vokhidova ended up in a pre-trial detention center, where she spent 5 months, during which the trial lasted.
Not every woman is willing to withstand such trials on the way to a political career. However, Vokhidova believes that she was discriminated not on the basis of sex, but on membership in a party that is considered to be the opposition ruling party of the president - the People’s Democratic Party.
The second reason for the weakening of female leadership was disbelief in success. According to the sociological research of the NGO “Traditions and Modernity” among women, potential candidates for elected bodies, more than half would like to put forward their candidacy in the local parliament. But about 12% of women consider their participation in elections unpromising, referring to the negative experience of past years. 23% were not confident in their abilities, as well as voter support and do not have a good team.
If in the elections of 2000 the women who were nominated by political parties achieved the greatest success, in 2005 no woman from them entered the parliament.
Having formally declared women on party lists, obviously, to demonstrate their advanced views, they were put in low positions, thus depriving them of the opportunity to become members of parliament. So, in the list of the Communist Party, women were in 7th position, the Islamic Party - in 10th, and the Social Democratic - in 5. And only in the list of the ruling party, the woman was given one leading position, third place. Accordingly, only women from the ruling party of the president were among the members of the new parliament.
In the new parliament, the number of women increased significantly, reaching 17%. In the composition of the parliament 2000 - 2005 there were 11% of women, but they managed to lobby for the interests of women. Deputy Rano Samieva, the initiator of the Law “On State Guarantees of Equal Rights of Men and Women and Equal Opportunities for Their Realization,” said that when developing this law, she had to withstand the strongest criticism of the male part of parliament and its promotion was given with great difficulty. Men explicitly stated to her that women should stay at home and obey their husband, and not go to work. The draft law was returned twice for revision, and only four years later, at the very end of the term of parliament’s work, the draft was nevertheless approved. But she did not succeed in pursuing a 30% quota in this law, and the deputies of the upper house called the law “purely declarative”, which will change almost nothing in the lives of women.