A Central Asian country of 5 million inhabitants, Turkmenistan is a vast, landlocked country neighboured by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and the Caspian Sea. Independent since 1991, Turkmenistan has the world’s 4th largest natural gas reserves, with most of the country covered by the Karakun (Black Sand) Dessert.
Turkmenistan has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1997 and its Optional protocol in 2009. The country has adopted and implemented laws in line with international gender equality standards, such as its 2015 law, On state guarantees of equal rights and equal opportunities for women and men. Women’s and children’s health are reflected in its National Strategy on Response to HIV for 2012-2016.
There is a lack of gender-disaggregated data, including on gender-based domestic violence and other forms of discrimination against women. However, Turkmenistan’s first-ever National Action Plan on Gender Equality does include activities related to gender-based violence and discrimination. Adopted in 2015, the Plan assumes resource allocations from state and local budgets, the development of special programmes and specialists, and gender analysis. Its 15 targets and 60 activities, include among others:
- Improving legislation in line with CEDAW recommendations and gender equality principles;
- National mechanisms to promote gender equality
- Targeting stereotypes
- Identifying priority areas to address gender based violence
- Greater participation of women in social, political and professional life;
- Access to health service and sexual education
- Women in detention;
- Data collection to monitor and evaluate the Plan.
Decision-making figures for women in Turkmenistan are encouraging, with room for improvement.
Women hold 25.4 per cent of positions in executive bodies and 26.4 per cent of seats in the Parliament (Mejlis). The chairperson of the Mejlis and a deputy chairperson are women. Women make up 42.3 per cent of private sector employees, and are strongly represented social-cultural enterprises (63.7 per cent), education (66.2 per cent), and health care (63.7 per cent).
UN Women meetings in 2014-2015 with national counterparts, including the Mejlis, the National Institute of Democracy and Human Rights (NIDHR), the State Statistics Committee, the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and the Women’s Union, led to agreement on joint plans and areas of future cooperation.
Part of the UN Women Kazakhstan Multi-Country Office (MCO), the UN Women programme in Turkmenistan works for gender equality, to empower women and unlock progress for both women and men. Our programme is aligned with Turkmenistan’s national development priorities. We focus on initiatives in:
Currently, UN Women in Turkmenistan works jointly with the Women’s Union to raise awareness on gender equality among newly elected local municipal officials and non-profit organizations representatives in five regions of Turkmenistan.
Based on consultations with national partners and priorities defined in Turkmenistan’s National Action Plans, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Turkmenistan-United Nations Partnership Framework for Development, UN Women, will:
- Provide technical support to ensure that gender issues are central to the country’s labour and social protection programmes;
- Work to strengthen national capacity on reporting, monitoring and implementation of CEDAW and other human rights obligations relating to gender equality.
To learn more about our work in Turkmenistan, please visit the MCO Kazakhstan page.