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SICA Success Stories

USAID's Media-Driven Gender Equality Initiative Empowers Women and Girls in Central Asia

The issue of violence against women remains a significant concern in Central Asia. United Nations data from 2023 indicates that one in three women in the region has experienced physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. According to research conducted by the Eurasian Research Institute, Uzbekistan is ranked 62th out of 162 countries in terms of gender equality. Other Central Asian countries face similar situations, with Kazakhstan in 44th and Tajikistan in 70th place. These rankings are influenced by critical issues such as high maternal mortality rates, high teenage birth rates, and low female representation in parliament, indicating significant challenges in achieving gender equality.

Unwilling to remain on the sidelines, Yudjina Shin, a civil activist and beneficiary of the USAID-funded Social Innovation in Central Asia (SICA) program, decided to address the issue by launching an Instagram channel no.hate.power, to raise awareness on the topic of gender equality in Central Asia. Thanks to a grant from USAID’s SICA, the channel became a popular platform, garnering over 1000 subscribers, with a total reach of 48,000 people (Telegram and Instagram).

"Statistics reveal that girls in Central Asia encounter systemic discrimination, with the gender gap resulting in unfair treatment of women and girls in the workplace, families, and society at large. One major issue seems to be the lack of legal literacy among girls. To promote gender equality and empower women and girls, it is crucial to challenge and change the stereotypical expectations that society imposes on women. We need to openly discuss our rights, stand up against injustices, and prioritize information campaigns and educational programs," Yudjina explains.

Yujina undertook a project involving six lawyers and fourteen volunteers from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to create high-quality content incorporating international insights. The initiative inspired Gullola Farkhadova, a project participant, to conduct two seminars in Urgench, Uzbekistan, for young adults on the topic of "Gender stereotypes and their societal impact." Gullola received feedback on the practicality and relevance of the seminars.

"The project allowed me to present alternative, non-harmful ways of interaction, challenging destructive norms affecting women's lives. Women from Urgench gained insights into their rights, boosting their confidence and altering their worldview. Remarkably, men also showed support for these changes. Many participants thanked me after the seminars, underscoring the sessions' impact. This initiative not only motivated me but also enlightened me about my rights and the importance of openly discussing and sharing them," reflects Gullola.

In the initial phases of the project, many subject matter experts were reluctant to be interviewed on the channel. However, as its popularity increased, many experts voluntarily contributed their professional insights to the No Hate Power Instagram channel through live discussions and recorded sessions. Recent guests include experts from Vienna and Uzbekistan who shared insights on international work opportunities for women from Central Asia, and prominent Uzbek lawyer and opinion leader Madina Tursunova spoke about running an online business and intellectual property rights, and other topics. Notably, Yudjina managed to interview Seren Güven Güres, head of the UN Women's Office in Uzbekistan, on necessary steps to prevent gender-based violence in Central Asia and around the world. For Yudjina, these interviews signify "an important step towards raising public awareness" of the issues related to gender-based violence, highlighting the team’s commitment to creating an informative and diverse space on platforms.

As of March, 2024, No Hate Power blog has posted 262 unique material and attracted over 4,000 weekly visitors, while its videos have amassed more than 10,000 views. USAID prioritizes the advancement of gender equality because it is a fundamental right and foundational to a just society. "My dream is that every girl and woman in Central Asia recognizes her boundless potential. We plan to provide a training series across a range of topics to support girls' self-development and enhance their confidence. We aspire to cultivate a supportive and empowering environment where girls can share knowledge, learn from each other, provide mutual support, and grow together," Yudjina concludes.

The USAID-funded Social Innovation in Central Asia program is a five-year, $18 million program implemented by Eurasia Foundation to cultivate a vibrant and responsive civil society throughout the region, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, and build a new generation of forward-looking civil society leaders.

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