International Women’s Day

Forum in Kyrgyzstan showcases women’s leadership and contribution

Date: Wednesday, March 24, 2021

UN Women in Kyrgyzstan holds a Women Rise for All Forum – “Women's Leadership - Breakthrough into a New Era” forum was held at the Ala-Archa State Residence. Photo/ UN Women/Erkin Bolzhurov
UN Women in Kyrgyzstan holds a Women Rise for All Forum. Photo: UN Women/Erkin Bolzhurov
UN Women in Kyrgyzstan held the Women's Leadership – Breakthrough into a New Era Forum at the Ala-Archa State Residence. The event was aimed at showcasing the diversity of women's leadership and the significant contribution that women make to development in Kyrgyzstan, especially in the face of new challenges such as COVID-19.

The forum coincided with a number of other key events marking significant gender equality milestones. These included, the 95th anniversary of the beginning of the women's movement in Kyrgyzstan, also the global campaign dedicated to International Women's Day on 8 March, as well as the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and the global campaign – Generation Equality.

This Forum provided a unique opportunity to celebrate the significant efforts of women and girls across Kyrgyzstan to shape a more equitable future and to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum also served as a platform for dialogue between leaders of different generations, the importance of women's participation in political processes, and the upcoming elections to local (councils) keneshes.

Representatives from Government, international organizations and civil society organizations attended the Forum alongside activists and representatives from the culture and business communities. Women leaders from all regions of Kyrgyzstan shared their experience of leadership at various levels of decision-making, during the fight against the pandemic and after it.

Representatives from Government, international organizations and civil society organizations attended the Forum alongside activists and representatives from the culture and business communities. Photo: Erkin Bolzhurov for UN Women
Representatives from Government, international organizations and civil society organizations attended the Forum. Photo: UN Women/Erkin Bolzhurov
Alongside the physical event, there was also an online option for people to attend, bringing together various participants from all regions of the country. There were four panel discussions in total: intergenerational relationships; elections and the political participation of women; women at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 and leadership advice.

Former President of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbaeva opened the Forum. “Today we – women of Kyrgyzstan – hold our heads proudly,” she said during her opening address. “We stand here today and talk about women's issues and leadership. The girls of Kyrgyzstan should be like Aisuluu Tynybekova [world wrestling champion from Kyrgyzstan] – we should be fighters,” she said.

Ms. Otunbaeva also talked about the 30 percent quota for women in parliament and local councils. “In Uzbekistan, 30 percent of those in parliament are women, in Kazakhstan it’s 27 percent, in Turkmenistan – 25 percent, in Tajikistan – 24 percent, and here in Kyrgyzstan – 17 percent. We are sitting at 17 percent. We need to fight for every seat in parliament,” she added.

UN Resident Coordinator in Kyrgyzstan Ozonnia Ojielo noted that women's leadership brings growth and development to every country.

“I have a question for both community leaders and ordinary men: why can't we give women the responsibility to take leadership if we have seen what contribution they are making? There are many women in the global community who have shown effective governance of their country during a pandemic. And in Kyrgyzstan, women volunteers, teachers, doctors and activists have shown how they can fight,” he said.

The 30 percent quota for women in local councils was also raised by the head of the Central Elections Committee Nurzhan Shaildabekova. According to her, if women come to the reserved seats during the local council elections, the number of women-members of local councils could reach 2,858 women across the country. “Now there are only 713 of them,” she said.

At the event, in honor of the 95th anniversary of the women's movement in the Kyrgyz Republic, the outstanding contributions of the founders of the modern-day women's movement (Rosetta Aitmatova, Kulbubu Bekturganova and Roza Otunbayeva) were noted.

Women's Leadership – Breakthrough into a New Era Forum was made possible by the UNDP Program "Support for Elections in Kyrgyzstan 2020-2021" with the support of the Government of Switzerland, the Government of Japan under its COVID-19-response initiative and European Union and UN joint "Spotlight initiative".