Women-deputies to fight against early marriages

Feb 1, 2017

Photo Credit: Umutai Dauletova

Just think for a moment, focusing on the following facts. Laws protecting the rights of vulnerable groups, the law introducing severe punishment for bride kidnapping, the law on domestic violence as proposed in the new edition, the law on prosecution for holding a religious ceremony of marriage with under-aged ... all of them were proposed by MPs - women ...

“For me as a candidate, elections for local councils were held very difficult. Sometimes I wanted to quit because everywhere I was told that being a member of local councils is unfeminine business. Nevertheless, shall ever men deal with women's issues, children and elderly?” - wondered participant of the 1st gathering of women members for local councils, which was organized in the State Residence, Bishkek, 17 January 2017.

At a meeting with 60 participants, who came from all over the republic, the leaders of all factions of the Jogorku Kenesh, representatives of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, as well as representatives of the Central Election Commission were invited.

Participants of the meeting - trained women faced difficulties during the election process 11 December 2016. According to preliminary data, at present, only 8% of women officially became members of local councils.

Participants said that in the result of the elections held in March 2016 from the earlier trained women only one became a member of local councils ...! It turned out that gender quotas were taken into account only before elections, afterwards these quotas lost force. This unwritten rule has created a major barrier for women candidates after elections. Now women began thinking about special measures.

 “I decided to run for member of local councils only after I had been trained with specialists who introduced me the gender strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic, where it was written in black and white that women, equally with men have equal opportunities to participate in the political life of the country, but today, rights of women are in serious violation,” - told another participant.

Zulfiya Kochorbaeva, Director for “Agency of social technologies” noted this is depressing statistic, because under the current system, every regular election to local councils reduced representation of women in local councils. In 2004 there were elected - 19%, in 2008 - 17%, in 2012 - 12%. “In 2012, in 70 ayil keneshs, meaning in every sixth ayil kenesh, there was not elected a single woman. If we do not apply special measures bearing in mind the current trend of reducing the proportion of women members of councils by 2-5%, in 2020 women in ayil keneshs will be less than 2%. In this case, local councils cannot be considered a full-fledged representative of the authorities, since 52% of voters will not be represented, that means more than half of the population,” - Zulfiya Kochorbaeva came up with convincing arguments.

In turn, female members of local councils taking the lead of women initiative at the national level, developed their plans, that provided implementation and monitoring of these laws on the grass-root level. Participants offer to unite and start working to prevent early marriage, in collaboration with local governments, departments of education, health, religious communities and civil society activists.

Elmira Shishkaraeva, Country Coordinator, UNDP Gender Program, said that her organization in the Kyrgyz Republic for many years has been dealing with the promotion of women in politics. According to her, much has been achieved, but today the situation is still far from equal representation of women. For this reason, UNDP supported a great job on training women-candidates in leadership skills, oratory, designing the electoral program, conduct of election campaigns. Lawyers, mentors were involved using a variety of tools. “Without securing a 30% quota for women it will be difficult to strengthen their position on the level of councils. There is an urgent need to consolidate their efforts and come together on a regular basis to share their experiences, successes and challenges of operating activities as members. Elections were held, and now it is time for activity of women members in the field. Today, at the meetup, we have already discussed the enforcement and monitoring of the law prohibiting religious marriages with minors,” - stressed Elmira Shishkaraeva.

On the second day, Aynuru Altybaeva supported participants in attending the plenary session of Zhogorku Kenesh, chaired by Vice-Speaker Altynay Omurbekova. During the meeting, which was also attended by the leader of the Social Democratic Party faction - Isa Omurkulov and leader of the “Republic-Ata-Jurt” Omurbek Babanov, women received confirmation of necessary consolidation of 30% of quota and secured the backing in promotion of the temporary rules by MPs.

Gathering was held on the initiative of UN Women and partners - the Alliance “For Transparent Budget” and “Gender Studies Center” and the “Women Support Center” NGO, with the support of UNDP and the British Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Umutai Dauletova, UNDP Gender Mainstreaming Specialist