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Interview with Bakytgul Elchibayeva on the topic of rural women! We are particularly pleased to do so as she is our Leader of SDG 17 Partnership for Sustainable Development! Here – each of us can contribute to the achievement of the Global Millennium Goals at the local level! Take an example! Be with us!
In 2007, the United Nations established the International Day of Rural Women. Since then, it has been held on 15 October and is intended to remind society how much it owes to rural women and how valuable their work is. Rural women make up more than a quarter of the world ‘s population. Women farmers can be as productive and entrepreneurial as men, but cannot expect full access to land, credit, agricultural resources and markets. Such a situation is developing in the world, and about how our Kazakh rural women live and with what problems, we spoke with the executive director of the Fund of Local Communities of the Enbekshikazah district Bakytgul Elchibayeva.
– Bakytgul, please tell about the main problems faced by women in rural areas on the example of the well-known region – Almaty region.
– According to official statistics, the unemployment rate in Almaty region was about 4.8% last year, while the unemployment rate of women is more than twice as high as that of men, and specifically rural women, the situation is even worse. The fact is that in many farms wives work on an equal footing with husbands, they also get up early and also work hard, but they are considered to only help the husband. Certainly, given our mentality and traditions, the question of the independence of rural women, who are used to being “under their husband,” remains open. But in one way or another, the problem exists, and it must be studied and found the most effective ways to solve it.
Our fund, within the framework of the project “Development of specific policy instruments to promote the employment of rural women, including in the business sphere,” which was implemented with the funding of UN-Women, conducted a study of opportunities and barriers for the economic and social participation of rural women in Almaty region. In terms of entrepreneurship development, unemployed women who think about opening their business stop the absence of start-up capital, ignorance of the basics of doing business, fear of failure. Also, most villagers do not have access to credit due to lack of or low value of collateral property.
On average, 80% of rural women have vocational education at college (47.5%) or university level (32.5%). At the same time, the study showed that the diploma increases the chances of employment in rural areas for employment, and for business or farming it is sufficient to obtain secondary special education. There is also a problem of non-conformity of educational programs offered by educational institutions of the region with the real needs of the local labour market. For example, agricultural enterprises actively recruit employees, and only 4% of colleges in Almaty region have a pronounced agricultural focus.
We have also studied the possibility of teaching rural women through the Internet. To the question: “Do you use the Internet?” – 68% of unemployed women answered positively, but it turned out that most of them use the World Wide Web to watch social networks, films and communicate in messengers, and only a few women noted that the Internet is useful to them to obtain new information that can be used in employment.
In short, the potential of rural women needs to be worked hard – in something at the state level, in something by NGOs.
– Your fund implements successful projects such as the comprehensive program “Rural Development” and the agricultural production cooperative “Chilica Farmers.” Were women farmers involved?
– Yes, the program “Rural Development” and the Agribusnescentre in Shelek village created within its framework can be considered successful, on the basis of which on a permanent basis seminars-trainings are held on vegetable farming, marketing of farms, training courses on computer literacy, accounting courses and much more, as well as the cooperative “Farmers Chilika,” created for joint marketing of agricultural products of the program participants.
They have been implemented by us with the support of Philip Morris Kazakhstan for several years, and, for example, last year the project Farmers Chilica won the CSR Excellence Award in Great Britain in the nomination “Best Socio-Economic Project of the Year,” and was awarded the award of the European Business Association of Kazakhstan (EUROBAK) as the best project in the nomination “SOCIAL partnership.” But the main thing is that the project meets its main goal – contributes to the improvement of the quality of life and business of farmers, who thanks to cooperation and introduction of innovative methods of farming every year become more and more successful entrepreneurs.
Unfortunately, of the 26 members of the cooperative, only five are women. Among them, for example, the owner of a successful farm, where vegetables are grown, there is a greenhouse and are engaged in dairy production, – Humabuvi Ibragimov. Very interesting is the history of our other participant of the cooperative – Aigul Mukanova. She was a violinist and, when she married a rural guy, could not find her place here for a long time, felt the feeling that not in business. After Aigul entered our program, she not only won a small greenhouse, but also gained knowledge that allowed her to successfully participate in public concessional lending programs. As a result, she also won a preferential loan for the purchase of cattle and now says that she feels like a full-fledged participant in the family business, and her self-esteem has increased markedly.
– Now you have in your work any projects addressed specifically to rural women?
– In November, our region traditionally hosts the Forum of Rural Women of Kazakhstan, in which I participate as an ambassador of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, in particular SDG No. 17 “Partnership for Sustainable Development.” In many forums in which I took part, I was inspired by new approaches: in particular, we in Kazakhstan are used to the need to help and support those who are in a difficult life situation. Roughly speaking, while the person is doing well, he is not interested in anyone, but if he is in some difficult life situation, there are crisis centers, suicide prevention centers and so on. In fact, it is not necessary to wait for the “fall” to happen, and at the stage when everything is normal, it is possible to see exactly how to help the person to take the next step, to develop.
Based on this approach, we are now launching a completely new project “School of Successful Rural Women.” When we united Chilica ‘s farmers, they also felt uncertain, and now they feel like businessmen, and successful: their photos in annual reports, colleagues come to them to learn from experience, regularly within the framework of press tours journalists and so on. It would be desirable for a certain coup to take place in the minds of rural women, so that they would have more courage and openness to the whole new one.
So far, it is difficult to say in which directions the practical part of this project will develop, as its initial stage is the conduct of a marketing study designed to identify which types of small businesses are in demand and will be profitable in our area. And this study will be carried out by women themselves, of course, with the support of professionals.
The participants of the project should see where they can make their own efforts. In fact, there are a lot of unoccupied niches on the market, for example, rural women are not available fashion now training on development, and just a good stylist is not found. So why not learn something new and open your small but demanded business?
The project also involves training in business planning, and at the final stage we plan to organize a fair with the involvement of donors and grantees, because NGOs and businesses are also looking for women with ideas and a desire to realize themselves to support them and help them. That ‘s where we want to bring all the sides together on the same platform. After all, effective interaction with state bodies, representatives of the business community and public institutions gives rise to excellent, very successful projects, of which our comprehensive rural development program and the Chilica Farmers project are clear examples.
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