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

Tajik Women Largely Absent From Political Life

Reporter Shahodat Saibnazarova tries to find out whether more women will make it into parliament in the February 20 election.
By IWPR Central Asia
Although women make up about half the working population, relatively few rise to senior positions, and only a handful are in government and parliament.

Khusrav Shambezoda, rector of science at the Tajik-Russian Slavonic University, believes not enough is being done to identify women with potential early on in their careers and encourage them to go into politics.

Gender expert Alla Quvvatova says women tend to steer clear of politics, and also have fewer opportunities than men to get an education. In addition, women are generally burdened with mundane responsibilities like keeping households going.

Another practical barrier that puts many women off standing is the high non-returnable deposit that candidates have to pay. However, Muhibullo Dodojonov, administrative chief at the Central Electoral Commission, says more women have put their names forward this time.

“I think that in this parliamentary election, more women will be elected, so that they will account for not 13 per cent but closer to 19 per cent [of members],” he said.

IWPR interviewed one female candidate, Marhabo Jabborova of the president’s People’s Democratic Party. With a background in higher education, Jabborova pledged to do more to help women realise their potential.