Never a Shortage of Topics for Girl Activists in Kyrgyzstan

Rising Voices Grantee Update


August was very productive month for the Girl Activists of Kyrgyzstan.

We already had a good idea of what we would write about. Some of the topics brainstormed by the workshop participants include daily violence at home and outside, restrictions on freedom of movement, and gender inequality. We would also write about how we would have to do housework while our fathers and brothers sit in from of the TV, and about how we must wear dresses or skirts and because of that we suffer street harassment. We are not allowed to be smart and study science, we can't make our decision, but society makes decisions for us. Our friend was bride kidnapped and married way too early. We want to write about the culture of “uyat” (shame) and “el emne deit” (what will people say?). We're taught to be ashamed of our bodies and our sexuality and to obey our family/men.

The problem of violence exists in our schools. Teachers make no special effort to prevent violence and some even beat the students. There are other school problems, such as bullying in the form of beatings, insults, and peer pressure.

Unfortunately, many do not want to talk about what is happening, since they do not see anyone wanting to prevent violence. Sometimes we are scared to open up to our parents, teachers, and others, because we are afraid of experiencing violence again.

- workshop participant

During the workshops, we shared knowledge about the smartphones’ functions with the girls. One of the participants shared information about photo and video using the smartphone. Another spoke about writing notes and recording audio, and another spoke about calling and messaging, and somebody else about social networking and blogging. These were not lessons like we have usually at school, always boring and restrictive. We just shared our experience and thoughts.

One girl from kyrgyz village was so excited to write posts about her life, and she already started doing it on her Facebook profile. She described how she looks after her cows and picks raspberries to sell and make money for English lessons. She really wants to speak English. There are some posts she wrote below (and reprinted with permission), which included some information about her daily activities:

Ураааааа нашлась моя потерявшась корово y моей подрyге дома,но она исспортила иx нюю всю малинy.

Yay, I found my missing cow at my friend’s house, but she damaged all the raspberries in their garden.

Вы не поверите я соберала малинy 11 часов ,я где то в 9:00 часоов зашла в 17:00 вышла, Не x ила да? За что 46 банок собрала, и здала за 65 сомов

You wont believe it, but I picked raspberries for 11 hours. I started at 9:00 a.m. and finished at 5:00 p.m. Not bad,i sn’t it? Now I collected 46 jars of raspberries and sold it for 65 soms (local currency).

but later her posts also included more thoughtful reflections about the difficulties of living in the village:

Жизнь в селе как вы себе придставляете?

У каждого она разная это зависит как сам/сама относятся к этой жизни
для меня жизнь в селе порой надоедала и я проста xотела покончить жизнь само убийством,порой просто xотела жить и наслождатся что живу,что я есть порой я чувствовала что моя душа была далеко от меня и я не наxодила что мне делать я просто жила

я почти каждый день собераю малину,а другие ребята моего возраста работают соберают клубнику,малину ии зарабатывают себе на жизнь,к счастью я мак не работаю, но я знаю что это очень трудно 

Village life… how do you imagine it?

Everyone has different lives. It all depends on how she or he sees her or his life. Life in the village annoyed me and I felt like not wanting to live. But other times I just wanted to enjoy my life. Sometimes I didn't understand for whom I am living, but I still lived my life.

Every day I picked raspberries, while others worked harder than me. It's difficult for them, I know that. Fortunately, my life is easier.

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