Kyrgyzstan Radio Program Strengthens Women’s Political Participation, While Draft Law Threatens NGO Freedom



Following the success of WLP Kyrgyzstan/Bir Duino’s earlier adaptation of WLP’s leadership curriculum for national radio, Bir Duino again partnered with a regional radio station to develop the tutorial, “Guide to Action: A guide to the Political Participation of Women.” This program, adapted from WLP’s Leading to Action manual, focuses on enhancing women’s political leadership, while building tolerance in the region. The program was aired on radio stations in Kyrgyz, Russian, and Uzbek three times a week, reaching a wide audience with a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

This innovative effort to advance women’s rights and political participation comes at a critical time, as NGOs and human rights advocates in Kyrgyzstan face an increasingly restrictive environment. Newly proposed regulations on NGOs gained international attention, following the introduction of a bill severely limiting the freedom of NGOs and activists, who already confront significant human rights challenges in the country. The bill, which is modeled on a similar Russian law, would restrict the overseas funding of NGOs and tightly regulate their activities.  

In a shadow report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June, Bir Duino details several of these challenges, including the lack of transparency in government and government agencies, the lack of recognition of the rights of children and migrant workers, and the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions. In response to these challenges, Bir Duino provided a number of recommendations. Those focused on women’s rights include: developing the leadership skills of rural women; providing education on reproductive health and family planning; opening a state crisis center for victims of GBV; and implementing quotas for gender, youth, and ethnic groups. Bir Duino’s new radio trainings offer an opportunity to engage with people around Kyrgyzstan and the region at-large, especially women in remote arears, on these important issues. Bir Duino’s efforts continue to show impressive results, with 13 women participants in the WLP Kyrgyzstan training program being elected in the past year to serve as local deputies.   

S:SSO to Sakai