Kyrgyzstan: Gender Analysis for GIZ Programme Mineral Resources for Development

Gender Analysis for GIZ Programme Mineral Resources for Development
Guzal Abdirazakova. GIZ-MRD. 2014


The following gender analysis aims to inform the internal GIZ mission about the current
situation of gender equality in Kyrgyz Republic. It includes up to date statistics and
information collected from different sources. It examines several topics including state
regulations on gender based issues, violation of women’s rights both in the families and
societies, education and employment opportunities for women in general and in the
mining sector, also there will be concluding points with recommendations for the
The process of writing this analysis involves desk study of both internal and external
documents written on gender issues in Kyrgyzstan. To make it easy to understand the
paper is divided into subsections each dealing with the different gender aspect.

General overview

Dissolution of the Soviet Union granted independence to Central Asian countries
leaving them on their own. The transition period since independence in 1991 has been
marked by social and economic difficulties for the people. Along with reforms gender
balance in the public sphere that has been achieved by the Soviet Union started to
decline as well. For instance, according to the World Development report during the
first decade of independence economic activity of women of working age decreased
from 81.6% to 42.3% and in some oblasts even more.
Kyrgyzstan is the landlocked country that is situated in the heart of Central Asia.
The population of the country is about 5,2 mln. people, among them 2,6 mln. are
women. The country historically has been considered as one of the resource poor
countries in the region and has been struggling with poverty and political instability. The
post-Soviet period has been marked with reforms in every aspects of life; however
these reforms did not deal and attempted to improve the gender equality.
Unemployment among women within these reforms has grown. The employment rate of
women is 22 percent was less than men for years2
. Moreover, opportunities for women both social and political that has been taken for granted before now it is the issues that
women have to fight for.
Human Development Report that was published in 2011 reveals that Kyrgyz
Republic is on the 126 places out of 187, which means that country is in the lower part
of the group of countries with the medium human development, highlighting regional
urban and rural disparities and inequalities between women and men. On the same
year Gender Inequality Index in Kyrgyz Republic out of 146 countries was in 66th place,
whereas Gender Index in 2012 was ranked 33 out of 863
. The government of Kyrgyz
Republic has made number of efforts to regulate and develop legal framework to
eliminate discrimination based on gender and to remove the gap in all sectors.

Declaration of Women’s Rights

Ever since independence Kyrgyzstan has ratified all major UN Conventions
including Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,
Convention against Torture, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of
the Child. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
(CEDAW) is another document that the Kyrgyz Republic ratified and took responsibility
to “take all measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to
marriage and family relations and especially the state has to ensure that men and
women should freely chose a spouse have the same right to enter the marriage and
take this step with their own will4
. The state should make sure that the couple will have
same rights and responsibilities during the marriage and dissolution. However these
ratifications are far from being implemented. The legislation of the country is slow and
not all the requirements are met in accordance with the above listed documents.

Regulation of gender issues by the Kyrgyz State

In the recent years the government of Kyrgyz Republic has made some efforts to
regulate and develop legal framework to eliminate discrimination based on gender in all
matters. The constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic affirms that women and men are equal
in all matters. According to the Article 16 of the new Constitution all kind of
discrimination based on gender, religion ethnicity is prohibited.
Moreover in 2012 the Kyrgyz government adopted The National Strategy of
Kyrgyz Republic for Achieving Gender Equality until 2020 along with the National Plan
to succeed in Gender equality in the country for 2012-20145
. This plan is designed to identify the main problems with regards to gender and work on improving economic
empowerment of women, eliminating gender discrimination and increasing women’s
access to justice, creating a system of functional education and last but not the least is
the promotion of higher representation of women in politics.

Formal legal system and traditional norms regarding gender-based

The Law of the Kyrgyz Republic on Social and Legal Protection against Domestic
Violence has been adopted so the women will be protected from any assaults.
Nevertheless, most of the women are not aware of their rights and do not usually sue
against violence. For instance in 2006 there were 31, 392 registered crimes where 3615
were against women. In 2013, Kyrgyz authorities recorded 2,351 cases of domestic
violence where 66.3 percent are physical beatings however not all became the judicial

In addition in the rural areas of Kyrgyzstan there is a still widespread bride
kidnapping which is rarely punished and still considered as an old tradition. There are
no accurate statistics on this, because most of the times girls stay in their grooms house
and keep silence. In spite of the fact that Kyrgyz Family Code sets the legal age of
marriage at 18 regardless of their gender, there are cases when they enter the marriage
even earlier. For instance in 2009, 18 percent of brides were between 15 and 19 years
of age6

. In the recent years it has become very popular and cheap to have a religious
marriage, which means they do not register, but call the religious leader and ask him to
make “Nikah”. All these unregistered marriages automatically limit the rights of women
in regards to property, divorce and inheritance7

. Whereas, in registered marriages there
is no legal discrimination on property and inheritance. Kyrgyz Family Code highlights
that men and women are equal when there is a question of property. However in the
practice, especially in rural areas women are discriminated and all the inheritance
issues solved in favor of men. Women, especially in rural areas are not aware of their
rights and do not know that there are some laws that protect their rights, therefore, most
of the time they are left with nothing.

Traditionally Kyrgyzstan is a patriarchal country, where man is still considered as
the main bread winner, whereas woman is the housewife who takes care of the children
and does all the work about the house. In most of the cases newly married couples
usually live with the parents of the groom and young bride has to serve all the family
members as long as they are in the same house. The new role of young women in
marriage is unpaid and perceived as it is normal. Thus she doesn’t really have a chance
to work and develop professionally. However in the northern part of the country the
situation has been improving and women became more active and aware of their rights.

Economic situation


During the Soviet Union, education in Kyrgyz Republic was free of charge and it
was compulsory for everyone. For this reason enrolment and literacy of both boys and
girls was high. Secondary education is still compulsory today, nearly all children are
enrolled. According to the data that was provided by National Committee on Statistics of
Kyrgyz Republic in 2012 the enrolment of girls in schools is less than the enrolment of
boys. The number of pupils in secondary schools is 1, 015,172 and only 499,379 are girls. In technical colleges the representation of girls is even less, among 31,032 only
9,025 are girls8
. However, the numbers are different in universities where girls comprise
55% of all students because boys usually easily find jobs abroad and start contributing
to their family incomes.
The most popular specializations among girls are food processing and Textile industry,
education, health service, art and culture, economics and management and the least
popular is Development of Mineral Resources.

Employment and Salaries

Despite the fact that the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic grants the equal
rights to women with men, women across the county face various forms of
discrimination in working places. Female unemployment is growing, for instance in 2005
the gap between men and women was 1.7 percent, but in 2011 it reached 2.3 percent.
There are more unemployed women than men. Only 41 percent of economically active
women in the country have jobs. Moreover, it is important to note that in rural areas
there are more unemployed women than in the cities. For instance in Naryn province 70
percent of women do not have jobs.
Gender discrimination is also noted in the hiring process, where women are deprived
from job because of their reproductive roles. Most of the employers believe that due to
the domestic responsibilities and childcare may prevent them from doing their job
accurately and efficiently. They believe that women are not able to perform business
trips when it is necessary, because it is assumed that they will not be able to leave their
child for a long time.

In addition to the high rate of unemployment women are also lower paid than men and
concentrated in the least profitable sectors of the economy such as education, social services and healthcare. Even within these segments, high and managerial positions
are hold by men. The gap between women and men’s average salaries, in 2011
women’s was 78, 4 percent of men’s salary.
Nevertheless, considering the poverty of the population it can be noted that the poorest
households are not headed by women. According to the statistics 20 percent of women
headed families are poor and 2,8 percent are extremely poor. Whereas the level of
poverty among men headed households are 30, 4 percent are 2.8 percent are
extremely poor. Due to the lack of rule of law and discrimination in the working places
most of the time women are pushed into the shadow and informal economy.
Political participation
During the first decade of its history women were nearly unrepresented in
politics. With 30% quota that was introduced in 2005 the number of women in
parliament went from 0 percent up to 25 percent.
Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments %
From the tables above it can be observed that situation is changing year by year and women
are more involved in politics than they were before. However, the numbers also vary based
on the territory.

In 2012 there were no women holding seats in politics in Osh, whereas in Bishkek 27
percent were women. Bishkek and the north of the country is more westernized and
more women are becoming active in politics, whereas in the southern regions people
are more religious thus less women can be seen in politics.

Gender and Mining sector

Distribution of the employed population among the sectors according to gender is
uneven. The share of women in employment is highest in healthcare and social services
(79%), education (76%), and hotels and restaurant services (65%). Men are most
engaged in construction (95%), mining (91%), and the energy sector (81%).

Due to the constant problems in the mining sector in Kyrgyz Republic the profitable
sector of the economy is losing it’s popularity among females. Only two percent of the
students in the Mining Institute are girls, the rest are boys.
Development of Mineral resources 2% 98%
The same can be said about the average number of the employees that work in the
mining sector. 

Douglas Grier, the Director on Sustainable Development at Kumtor Operating
Company, explained that one of the reasons for imbalance is the Kyrgyz labor laws,
which restrict the type of work women, can do in so-called “dangerous occupations”. So
whereas there is a trend in other countries of women being used extensively as haul
truck drivers in the mine pit, in Kyrgyzstan it is not possible due to the labor laws.
According to Chapter 25, article 306, it is prohibited to employ women for hard work with
dangerous circumstances as underground jobs, moving and lifting heavy things. In
addition the law outlines a list of industries, professions with deleterious and hazardous
work where it is not allowed to employ women moreover there is also restrictions on the
type and work load they can be given by the employer.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Despite the substantial gains that have been made in last years in terms of
gender equality, Kyrgyzstan still falls behind on several aspects of gender fairness.
Gender disparities can take many different forms throughout the country. Therefore,
policies that are adopted should not be only on the paper but also more attention should
be paid for the enforcement of these policies.
Mining sector in Kyrgyz Republic had faced and still facing a lot of challenges
both from the local population and the weak government agencies. Despite the fact that
there is a potential in employing women there are no new hires in mines due to the
problems with the companies getting a social license to operate. Thus, mining jobs are
seen as relatively unattractive and harmful.

Since gender aspects are not the main objective of the programme, the MRD
programme will not have big impact on gender equality in the mining sector, however
we as a programme try to keep gender balance in all our activities. When organizing
roundtables, workshops, technical seminars and local council trainings we must look at
the gender aspect and try to involve more women.

Also in the future, we need to discreetly but consistently remind our partners to think
about gender equality and provide equal opportunities for everyone. We support
development of modern mines with lots of technology where women tend to find more
work than in the traditional, physical-labor based coal mines. Hopefully, our project will
contribute to getting to the point where the mineral potential of Kyrgyz Republic will be
used fully and women will be employed not only in the laboratories and in administrative
jobs but also in the high level technical and managerial positions.

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