Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Tajik Farming: Women Dig, Men Earn

By Orzu Karim











“You work away ploughing the field till you’re exhausted. But you don’t get the money you’re due,” says Davlatbibi Karimova, 60. 

Karimova’s experience as a woman doing hard manual farmwork in the southern Khatlon region is shared by many across Tajikistan.

The government has a strategy for reducing unemployment among rural women, but some experts doubt whether it will go far enough. At the moment, women do a lot of the agricultural work in Tajikistan, as many men spent long periods working in Russia or other countries.

Women work on small to mid-sized “dehkan” farms, but generally any wages go to the male head of household, and female labourers are granted few employment rights including holidays.

Nazira Safarova, from the Khatlon regional agricultural department, says rural working women need to be made much more aware of their rights

Amon Muhiddinov, a man from the southern Bokhtar district, agrees that women are mistreated.

“Their wages don’t match the work they do, but they don’t know their rights, so often they are paid with galoshes or flour instead of money,” he said. “Nor do they have work record books, and that can create problems for them down the line when they want to get a pension.”

Orzu Karim is an IWPR radio contributor in Tajikistan. 

This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.