Boosting role of Uzbek women in public life
Ahead of parliamentary elections in December 2004, the OSCE Centre in Tashkent is carrying out projects to increase the participation of women in all areas of Uzbek society. Improving women’s leadership, advocacy and entrepreneurial skills is part of a key programme to get women involved in public and political life.Empowering women
The position of women in Uzbekistan has improved, but there is still a lack of educational programmes in leadership. To help rectify this, the OSCE Centre in Tashkent and the International Helsinki Federation (IHF) held women’s leadership training seminars last November and February.
Participants discussed their visions of gender equality and analyzed particular violations of women’s rights such as domestic violence - an issue that has yet to be addressed seriously by the government. They compared gender issues and successful projects in Kosovo, Rwanda and Sweden, and looked at the role of men in promoting gender equality.
An expert leadership trainer from Sweden, Niclas Ericsson, engaged participants in discussions about their personal experiences and led an interactive, role-playing session addressing gender stereotypes. There was also an emphasis on developing communication, conflict resolution and stress-management skills.
These were the first training sessions at which representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and state structures worked together on political and social issues.
Improving advocacy skills
Helping improve the training and lobbying capacities of women in advocacy is another key area for the OSCE Centre. “At first, it seemed like a game,” said one trainee. “But without noticing it, we all got involved and began developing personal goals. Everything was so interesting - I was eager to use the knowledge I’d gained at work.”
Participants focused on running public education campaigns, holding press conferences and writing press releases as well as targeting audiences with different approaches. Interactive games such as “the prisoners’ dilemma” helped them develop negotiation and mediation skills.
To improve future gender projects, organizers have been collecting feedback from participants. Many feel that political parties should include gender policies in their programmes and that the media should be used to support educational campaigns promoting women’s participation in Uzbek society.
Helping participants improve their self image is a central goal of the OSCE Centre’s training projects.
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