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Countering discrimination of women and children and promoting their rights by changing social and economic policies in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

Project facts

  • Funder: Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRF)
  • Partners: Expert Working Group of Uzbekistan (Tashkent), Public Foundation ‘Nota Bene’ (Dushanbe), Child’s Rights Defender League Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek).
  • Project period: July 2011 – October 2015
  • Budget: € 900.020
  • Project manager NHC: Mr Jan de Vries

Although Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have experienced significant economic growth over the last decade, access to social and economic rights has worsened. The health and education systems have deteriorated and social protection is weak or absent. As is often the case in such situations, some groups are hit harder than others: women and children are discriminated or suffer more with regard to health, employment and education. The governments of the Central Asian republics demonstrate little awareness of the necessity to base their social and economic policies on a human rights framework. All three countries have signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but economic growth has not resulted in development policies, meaning that there are only limited improvements and sometimes even a decline in the realization of economic and social rights.

This project, which is financed by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, intends to stimulate the governments of these countries to follow up on their commitment to women and child rights in their policies and practices. So far, social and economic policies have done little to change the exclusion of many vulnerable groups from opportunities and services that are part of their economic and social rights. A closer look at policy processes and outcomes reveals, for instance, that women and children are merely seen as subjects of development, rather than rights holders. As a result, organisations representing those groups are not involved in the development process. The project therefore mainly strives to enhance the capacity of local civil society organisations to engage effectively in the national development processes.

To achieve its goal, this project incorporates various types of activities. This ranges from providing information on social and economic rights, trainings on women and child rights-based policy planning, workshops on monitoring, reporting and advocacy to organizing conferences for the involvement of a broad range of actors and stakeholders. From 2012 onwards, the local partners in all three countries will monitor, assess and analyse social and economic policies and practice for women and children in their countries on the basis of human rights norms, standards and principles.

In order to secure continuity of reporting, learning and right-based implementation processes, learning materials will be put together after each activity. These manuals can be used for future policy-influencing endeavours and ensure that the project has a lasting effect.

The NHC had its first encouraging success in June 2012, when a new law on child protection was adopted by the parliament in Kyrgyzstan. An intensive lobby campaign conducted by the local partners in the framework of this project contributed to this result. The newly adopted code paves the way for enhanced judicial authority over decisions on the placement of orphans and abandoned children in state-run child care facilities and is in line with recommendations of the United Nations child rights oversight body.