I am Generation Equality: Aizhan Alymbay kyzy, young chess championBillions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.
I am Generation Equality because…
In Kyrgyzstan, as in the rest of the world, chess is mostly male dominated. If you go to a chess club, you will see fewer girls compared to boys. Girls and women often face gender stereotypes in chess.
Three steps you can take for gender equality:
- Eliminate gender stereotypes about professions and hobbies
- Support children in whichever field they would like to pursue
- Empower girls
Monetary awards for women at the Kyrgyz championships are almost half of what men are offered and mostly men participate in these tournaments. The situation is changing for the better now.
In my journey, I did not face any gender-based barriers. I believe the world is heading towards equality. We can be the ones to push the boundaries of what is possible. My family, especially my mother, has been very supportive of me becoming a champion in chess since my childhood. However, this is not the case with other girls.
At chess academy, where I was teaching, we demanded equal performance both from girls and boys. But parents urged teachers to be less harsh on girls. They were encouraging us to be more demanding on their sons. This is how families often limit the potential of their daughters. We need to raise awareness on ensuring quality education for girls and encourage families to support their daughters.
I trained national chess champions, organized many children's tournaments, and was leading the national team at the Asian Championship. But I admit that my personal career in chess has suffered. I paused playing for a while when I had a child. It was difficult for me to combine family, work and chess but my spouse has been very supportive. When I played at chess tournaments, he looked after our daughter and took a paternity leave after birth.
"I call on all women and girls to challenge gender stereotypes, smash the boundaries and keep realizing their dreams!"
Despite the gap in my professional career, I decided to suspend my teaching to compete in chess championships. I aspire to be an international women grandmaster in chess.
In the modern world, creative thinking and analytics are highly valued, and this is exactly what chess can offer. I want to be a role model for other girls. Playing chess is empowering, self-fulfilling, and makes you realize that everything is possible. Our society needs to create an enabling environment for women’s empowerment in sports and beyond. I call on all women and girls to challenge gender stereotypes, smash the boundaries and keep realizing their dreams!
Aizhan Alymbai kyzy is a 26-year-old chess champion from Kyrgyzstan. She has been a member of the national team since she was 15 years old, and took the third place in Asian Rapid Chess Championship.