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SICA Success Stories

USAID Supports Women From Remote Areas of Uzbekistan to Gain High-Quality Legal Protection

Gulzoda Avazova, the director of Taskin NGO, has observed injustices and violence against women throughout her life. Previously, she encountered a manager who consistently harassed female employees. Her decisive action led to his dismissal. This experience galvanized her commitment to advocate for women's legal rights, prompting her to pursue work in the field of women's legal protection.

"My neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances, and relatives frequently confided in me about harassment or violence they endured. Many women felt their only recourse was to confide in a friend or whisper to a neighbor about being physically abused or thrown out of their homes with their children. I couldn't stand by as a mere listener. I advised them on where to seek help and encouraged girls and women to pursue justice. I believe that silence only perpetuates the cycle of violence. It's crucial to speak out to end this enduring issue," she notes.

Gulzoda Avazova (in the middle)

After completing a course designed to train instructors in women's legal literacy, Gulzoda Avazova established the Taskin NGO in 2018, located in the Surkhandarya region of Uzbekistan. The organization offers comprehensive support to women and girls in the Denov district, addressing their socio-economic, legal, and spiritual needs. It also aids in professional development and enhances their engagement in the social and cultural spheres of the community. A year into its operation, the chairman of the committee on women and girls' rights acknowledged Gulzoda Avazova's contributions. He highlighted that Taskin's efforts in the Denov district had significantly reduced the number of suicides from six to one over the year.

Initially, Taskin NGO primarily served women in close proximity. The team sought to extend their reach, to includeincluding to those in neighboring villages and mountainous regions. They enlisted a volunteer computer programmer who proposed creating an online platform for women to submit applications. When in 2022 Gulzoda discovered a grant opportunity from the Eurasia Foundation for "Innovative Solutions" as part of the Social Innovation in Central Asia program, funded by the U.S.AID Agency for International Development, she immediately applied for thea grant. With $25,000 secured, the team launched a full-fledged creation of the "Denov-404" application platform, enabling 312 women from distant villages, including those with disabilities, to improve their legal literacy. To ensure accessibility, a tutorial video on using the platform was produced. Beneficiaries also received consultations from lawyers and psychologists. The team also established a working group including representatives from the Ministry of Justice, a deputy, an imam (religious leader), an inspector from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and local mahalla (district) specialists, who collaborated to address issues at the community level.

The activities of working group with a victim of domestic violence

Anfisa Gafarova (name changed), a mother of a child with mental disabilities, entered into marriage through Nikakh (religious marriage ceremony). After 30 years together, her husband expelled her from their house, a property acquired with their joint funds. Seeking help, Anfisa approached 18 ministries. While some departments recommended legal action, she hesitated, fearing that it would escalate the systematic abuse from her husband and his relatives. Anfisa decided to pursue legal avenues to address the issue only whenIt was not until she discovered the Denov 404 Platform at the local hokimiyat (mayor's office) that Anfisa decided to pursue legal avenues to address the issue. With Taskin NGO's legal assistance, Anfisa submitted an application to the court. Following months of litigation, the court ultimately ruled in her favor, ensuring that Anfisa and her child were granted their own home.

“There have been numerous instances where women, despite having the law and justice on their side, were either unaware of their rights or too intimidated to seek help due to familial pressure. It is very important not to turn a blind eye to negligence on the part of other organizations and authorities. Because of their mistake, a person’s destiny can be ruined,” shares Gulzoda.

Another case under the radar of Taskin NGO involved Anora Tursunova (name changed), a woman who was also unlawfully evicted from her house. While working abroad, Anora's husband saw a photo of her with a male teacher on their son’s phone and persuaded the son to evict his mother, promising to givegift him a house and arrange a grand wedding in return. The son, aided by the mahalla representatives and their chairman, succeeded in ousting his mother from home. When Anora sought legal recourse, the judge initially ruled against her, citing the photograph with another man as justification for her son’s actions. Refusing to accept this injustice, Anora reached out to Taskin NGO via the Denov 404 platform. With the support of a lawyer from the organization, Anora filed an appeal against the initial judgment. Through diligent legal advocacy, the appeal succeeded, and Anora triumphed in her case, highlighting the importance of legal support and advocacy in confronting injustices and reclaiming rights.

Currently, the Taskin team is engaged in advocacy efforts aimed at enhancing the response mechanisms of government agencies in cases involving violence against women. "To address gender inequality effectively, our primary focus must be on enhancing the legal literacy of women and girls," Gulzoda explains. "Many instances of crime and discrimination in society are rooted in a lack of awareness about one's rights and freedoms. It's crucial for individuals who are genuinely concerned about this issue to pursue careers in organizations dedicated to women's and girls' affairs."

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