One of the main pillars of our project was teaching women about their land rights and increasing their access to assets.
As part of the project, we organized a series of judicial consultations for rural women that had problems with land management that we will describe in other post.
Our 60 participants from 5 villages during our seminars decided to form into a kind of initiative or active group of women that would defend their interests in front of local authorities. Even through, women and men equally occupied in agriculture, women face a number of barriers to control and use the land assets.
For information: Traditionally, land is considered as the assets of men, and despite the large share of employment of women in agriculture, they have no access to land resources and are employed as invisible forces. All issues related to land are solved at the level of local municipalities (budget hearings) and Elderly Court who gather the meeting once a year in spring. These meetings are only for men, so women are left out of discussion. In 2019, the government issued a law on gender (30%) quota for women in local councils, but during the first election in Saruu village in Issyk-Kul men demonstrated against women and urged them to cancel their candidacy, as women are perceived as not competent in land management issues. Local municipalities in rural areas favour men, who are perceived as competent in land management and irrigation. In addition, young married women are especially vulnerable, as they are often unemployed, often live with parents-in-law who are main decision-makers and have no access to land and financial resources. Elder women over the time can stand their ground and be more involved in decision making.
On the request of women, we invited an experienced lawyer and sociologist Iskender Bainazarov that had a rich experience in dealing with the common issues arising with land at the municipal level. Together with women, we also invited the local deputies, heads of municipalities, and representatives of water and pasture management committees.
During the training, participants learnt issues related to land inheritance, women’s ability to sell the piece of land that inherited from their parents , participation in the decision making, equal division of labour among men and women, as well as the burning questions such as proper use of water and pasture, how to solve the local conflicts arising at water and land use levels.