#StoryOfResistance - Making the home a safe place for women and girls in Tajikistan
“When I joined this project, my life took on a different colour”
In Tajikistan, over two-thirds of working-age women are not working for pay  and are therefore disproportionately impacted by the poverty that affects over a quarter of the population. Without financial independence, women have limited mobility and economic opportunities, leading to high risks of discrimination and violence, including in their homes.
Promoting family harmony
International Alert, a peace-building organization supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund), is running a project in rural Tajikistan to prevent and end all forms of violence against women.
It is using the Living with Dignity (Zindagii Shoista) methodology, which was developed to change negative gender attitudes at the family level and stop gender-based violence through social and economic empowerment. The approach has already proved successful in pilot projects in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
In the current project in Tajikistan, International Alert is leading activities to strengthen women’s financial management skills in households and boost household economies.
By March 2022, eight funding circles had been established to train young women on how to engage in family income-generating activities, such as cattle breeding and beekeeping, and to conduct market analysis, budgeting and planning.
These circles have increased women’s confidence and the respect they have within their family. The women have more decision-making powers and are now empowered to leave their homes to engage in economic activities without having to seek permission from a male family member, whose awareness on gender-based violence was raised through the project.
Preventing domestic violence
In addition, the project runs sensitization workshops for families on intimate partner violence – an issue that culturally has been considered as a private matter that should not be discussed outside of the family. These workshops promote positive messaging within communities about the importance of healthy, harmonious family relationships as an entry point strategy to prevent violence, rather than explicitly covering gender-based violence.
International Alert adapted its approach to emphasize the importance of positive family role models and relationships, promoting gender sensitivity and non-violent communication. It has also worked with extended families to promote discussions on gender-based violence.
Dilorom Abdulkhaeva, Senior Project Officer at the peace-building organization International Alert Tajikistan, explains:
“Often, younger daughters-in-law face not only violence and exploitation from their husbands but also from both male and female in-laws.”
The project has already reached 117 extended families through 96 workshops. A survey by a local partner in three target villages in Vakhsh district and three target villages in Jomi district found that nearly two-thirds of families involved in the project believed there had been positive changes in family dynamics and relationships.
“We have seen large-scale drops in the perpetration of physical, sexual and emotional violence and greater use of non-violent communication in wider beneficiary communities,” said Dilorom Abdulkhaeva.
Indeed, International Alert’s strategy to economically empower women and girls living in rural areas has proven crucial and successful in preventing and addressing violence against women and girls.
#StoryOfResistance is an editorial series during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence 2022 of the UN Trust Fund. The series features the important, lifeline work of women's rights organizations in ending violence against women and girls, in the context of overlapping crises and rising pushbacks from anti-rights and anti-feminist movements.