Many families in Kyrgyzstan are experiencing crippling poverty resulting in girls missing out on an education. This makes it difficult for them to find jobs or provide for themselves or their families.
A lack of education and poor job prospects has led to increased levels of domestic violence, as well as rising numbers of women turning to prostitution, drug peddling and being trafficked for sex to keep their families fed.
Even when women are able to find work, they are often stopped from taking it, because of a belief in Kyrgyz society that a woman’s place is in the home.
It is also common practice in rural Kyrgyzstan that couples are married under a traditional ceremony but without getting the marriage legally registered. This is one of the major factors contributing to the increasing vulnerability of young women in Kyrgyzstan.
Without a registered marriage, if a woman wants to leave her husband she has no legal standing, making it difficult to access social benefits to support her and her children. For women in abusive relationships, it can seem as though there is no way out.
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The British Red Cross is supporting the Kyrgyzstan Red Crescent to improve the social and economic position of almost 50,000 of the most vulnerable women living in the Kyrgyz cities of Bishkek, Jalal-Abad, Osh, Tokmak, Naryn and Karakol. The project focuses on:
- providing vocational and life skills, as well as health-related training to help vulnerable women earn a living and improve the living conditions of their families and communities
- giving communities, especially women of childbearing age, information related to maternal, neo-natal and child health, and promoting maternity services
- informing women of their rights, including access to social services, and raising awareness of the issues they face to reduce discrimination and exclusion.
See below for the stories of some of the women we are helping.