Empowering women and girls affected by migration for inclusive and peaceful community development


According to the Conflict and Peace Analysis (CPA, 2019), 59.6% of all labour migrants from Kyrgyzstan (approximately 476,800) are women. Most of them come from less privileged social backgrounds and originate from Southern regions of Kyrgyzstan. The main drivers of migration among women and men are the same: poverty, unemployment and community tensions over resources, power etc. However, women become more vulnerable to be forced by their families to migrate constituting the main driver of women’s migration.

Women and girls are forced to migrate by families to work abroad as they are seen as more patient, hardworking and willing to sacrifice for the family. Families perceive migration for their relatives as a solution of last resort, a family-level coping mechanism, which women and girls resort to out of economic and financial necessity, rather than expression of their fully free and independent will. Families also perceive migration for their daughters as the only pathway to escape from gendered risks and vulnerabilities at home such as kidnapping for the purpose of forced marriage or post-divorce stigmatization, not considering any other options including employment opportunities at the local level.  As a result, girls and women forced to migrate face a highly uncertain future during migration or face risks of becoming victims of potential conflict or violence if they stay.

Overall, Kyrgyzstan has made impressive progress in peacebuilding and the country has a strong normative base for greater attention paid to women’s rights and women’s activism in peacebuilding by adopting the 2017-2020 Peacebuilding Priority Plan (PPP) with gender lens and launching a National Action Plan (NAP) on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 for 2018-2020. However, at the community level, the implementation of the national legislation on gender equality is weak due to deeply entrenched patriarchal norms, gender stereotypes and lack of rule of law. Gender-based discrimination and violence affect women’s participation in political, economic and social life which results in decrease of women’s participation in decision making at national and local levels. This manifested in the percentage of female members in local councils which amounted to 10% in 2016, a historically low figure compared to 1998 (37%).

Given the fact that feminization of migration has grown rapidly for the past 5 years, the project is aimed to work on different levels, including a) community level: by working with community members to change public perception and social norms to build favorable community environment, enabling  women migrants to get engaged in peacebuilding b) policy level: to introduce gender responsive policies to recognize the role of women migrants and their contributions and c) women and girls migrants to be empowered to participate in community development, decision-making and peacebuilding initiatives on the local level.

The project concept is based on the consideration that forced migration of women and girls constitute a destabilizing factor to the social cohesion and visible barrier to women’s engagement in peacebuilding of the country as whole.

Project overview

This project, jointly implemented by the ILO, the IOM and UN Women, proposes a comprehensive approach to promote an enabling community and policy environment favorable to women and girls’ empowerment and their active engagement in peacebuilding and inclusive community development.
The project will contribute to the empowerment of women and girls most vulnerable to migration, by improving their participation in peacebuilding and inclusive community development, enhancing their access to socio-economic opportunities and building capacities of women and girls. The target groups include: 1) girls and women vulnerable to forced migration (unemployed, divorced women and girls vulnerable to forced migration/potential future migrants); 2) returning migrant women and girls (who may be potentially forced to re-migrate).

Vulnerabilities created by the migration of Kyrgyz women and girls are in most occasions a consequence of harmful gender stereotypes, shaped in society, which eventually contribute to the decrease of women’s participation in community development, the proposed project will be crucial and catalytic to undertake actions towards changing community attitude by promoting positive norms for women empowerment and recognition of women migrants’ role in peaceful community development. The project will not only target migrant women and girls, but also men and boys as well as relevant community members in target locations.

 This project will contribute to implementation of the Kyrgyz government’s stated policy objectives on the elimination of gender inequality (through its National Strategy for Gender Equality 2012-2020). Specifically, the project is aligned to the National Action Plan on Gender Equality (NAP on GE) 2018-2020 (enabling environment for decent work) to contribute to Women Economic Empowerment priority area.

In the implementation of the project, the ILO is responsible for activities related to expanding economic opportunities for women, particularly women and girls, who are affected by migration. To achieve project objectives, ILO approaches, methods and tools, as well as targeted training programs for women will be used, for example GET Ahead and  Financial Literacy.

The training programmes will be adjusted after conducting gender-sensitive gap analysis and gender-based assessment of financial services in line with results received.  The project will be implemented with support of national partners in the Kyrgyz Republic.