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January 2023

Rapid Needs Assessment for Tajikistan

Objective

National Women’s Business Agendas for Central Asia is a multi-disciplinary regional program aimed at building and supporting country-level and regional alliances, referred to as Coalitions, of women’s organizations to improve the ability of Central Asian women to engage in economic activity. Launched in April 2021, the program works with women’s business associations (WBAs) and women’s civil society organizations (WCSOs) to identify and address legal and societal barriers to women’s participation in the Central Asian economies. The program will foster collaboration among WBAs, WCSOs, and other key stakeholders in the private sector and civil society to establish and advocate National Women’s Business Agendas (NWBAs). The purpose of this rapid needs assessment (RNA) is to inform policy recommendations to be used by the business community and civil society in its advocacy efforts to promote an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic through a NWBA. WAGE is providing technical support to the Coalition of business associations and civil society organizations to develop a NWBA. The NWBA is an advocacy methodology developed by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and is used around the world to support the business community and civil society to advocate for market-oriented reforms to make doing business easier and to increase economic inclusion. The RNA complemented a series of consultative meetings conducted by members of the Coalition with over 1,000 women entrepreneurs from across the country. These meetings are a staple of CIPE's Business Agenda model to secure broad-based support from private sector stakeholders for the NWBA and ensure the program is a truly locally led initiative.

RNA findings and recommendations, along with the data collected during the consultative meetings, will be used to establish the specific topics the Coalition intends to focus on within the NWBA it develops. This will allow the Coalition to direct its energy and efforts to developing its advocacy approach on how to address policy and legislative issues identified through the women’s business agenda. The women's business agenda is a planned implementation activity that will show the Coalition’s evidence-based plan of action to improve women's economic success at a regional level in Central Asia including in the Kyrgyz Republic. The data collected over the course of the RNA was also used to validate and update the following sections within the WAGE Central Asia Gender and Inclusion Analysis: 1) Laws, Policies, and Institutional Practices, 2) Access to, Use, and Control over Assets and Resources and 3) Gender-Based Violence (GBV). This will ground the current Gender and Inclusion Analysis in a more focused perspective in line with the specific project goals and objectives.

The Rapid Needs Assessment Key Findings cover:

  • Laws, Policies, and Institutional Practices Related to Women’s Entrepreneurship
  • Sociocultural Issues and Gender Norms
  • Gender Roles and Power Dynamics
  • Access to, Use, And Control Over Assets and Resources
  • Gender-Based Violence (GBV) 
  • Capacity and Services of Business Associations

Conclusion

The government of the Kyrgyz Republic incorporated gender equality norms into the national legislation. It also adopted the National Strategy on Gender Equality and the State Program on Women Entrepreneurship Support and Development for 2022-2026. The legislation provides equal rights both for women and men to access and use property, inheritance, and financial resources. Despite this, there is a lack of implementation of these laws and policies. The legal framework often conflicts with prevailing socio-cultural norms including gender norms in the daily lives of men and women. Gender stereotypes, traditional mores, and a low level of education of the local population are key barriers to gender equality and drive gender discrimination. They also restrict opportunities for women to engage in business. The acceptance and adherence to harmful gender norms is most prevalent in rural settings where women often prioritize housework and children-rearing over business and employment. Rural women have also fewer infrastructure facilities, financial resources, and business opportunities to go into business.

There was a strong opinion among women entrepreneurs and CSOs that in comparison to other countries in the region, namely Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Kyrgyz government does not actively support women’s entrepreneurship. It does not provide incentives such as tax holidays, tax exemptions, lower tax rates, or low-interest loans for women to start or run a business. Tax legislation, tax administration, and reporting were found ineffective and not business friendly. The State Program on Women Entrepreneurship Support and Development is not being implemented. Besides, there is no definition of women’s entrepreneurship in the national legislation yet. Women entrepreneurs also complained about the lack of financial support from the government for startups.

GBV is prevalent in the Kyrgyz Republic, but largely unreported. Gender norms promote male dominance and superiority, which leads to unequal power relations between men and women and puts women at greater risk of GBV. Deeply entrenched patriarchal and religious norms legitimize violence. These norms play a significant role in informing the behavior and beliefs of women, who normalize GBV. Disabled women and girls experience alarming rates of GBV. There is no centralized assistance from the government to survivors of GBV, such as psychological rehabilitation services, legal support, and financial assistance.

Read the Report

The National Women’s Business Agendas for Central Asia program is an initiative of the WAGE consortium. The program is led by CIPE with operational support and GBV technical expertise from ABA ROLI and Search for Common Ground in the area of advocacy.

The statements and analysis contained in the report “Rapid Needs Assessment (RNA) for the Kyrgyz Republic” are the work of the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) consortium, led by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in close partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Grameen Foundation USA, and Search for Common Ground (Search). The Board of Governors of the American Bar Association (ABA) has neither reviewed nor sanctioned its content. Accordingly, the views expressed in the report should not be construed as representing the policy of the ABA.

Furthermore, nothing contained in this report is to be considered rendering legal advice for specific cases, and readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. All opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the United States Government, WAGE, or any members of the WAGE consortium.

About WAGE

Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) is a global consortium to advance the status of women and girls, led by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in close partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), Grameen Foundation, and Search for Common Ground (Search). WAGE works to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) and private sector organizations (PSOs) in target countries to improve the prevention of and response to gender-based violence; advance the women, peace and security agenda; and support women’s economic empowerment. In this context, WAGE provides direct assistance to women and girls, including information, resources, and services they need to succeed as active and equal participants in the global economy and public life. WAGE also engages in collaborative research and learning to build a body of evidence on relevant promising practices in these thematic areas. To account for the deeply interconnected nature of women’s and girls’ experiences, WAGE’s initiatives employ approaches that are highly collaborative, integrated, and inclusive. WAGE is funded by the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.