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Gender equality: The stories from life

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Irina Imamkulieva is a winner of UNDP Essay Contest “My role in achieving SDGs”. She works as a journalist for the “Neutral Turkmenistan” newspaper.

 

As a journalist I write on various topics. But the special theme for me is women empowerment and gender equality. This topic excites me and as a woman who has two granddaughters, and I really want them to have an important role in the family and society As a journalist, I believe that my best articles are sketches and essays about women, about their worldviews, their understanding of the new course of things and their place in society. I am grateful to my heroines whom I have met during my journalistic career, because the stories given by life and put down on paper in the articles always attract interest among readers. I can proudly say that through my articles I made gender concept understandable and visible in our society.

I wrote my first articles on gender equality sixteen years ago. Then, the editorial board gave me a task to lead the newspaper column titled "Woman and society". My heroines were women - tenants, female soldiers, writers, actresses, mothers with many children. They were satisfied with their status in the society. They found personal happiness in family and children, and believed that gender was a science irrelevant to them. I must admit, that in my first articles, I almost never used   the word gender. At that time, this concept was new not only for Turkmen journalists, but for the entire society.

Everything began to change in 2002, when with support of the UNFPA the editorial office of the newspaper “Neutral Turkmenistan” created a new creative group to produce the first electronic newspaper solely dedicated to women "Ene Myahri", which I was instructed to head. The strategy of the newspaper was determined by the state policy on women and the National Action Plan aimed to implement the activities promoting equal opportunities, rights and freedoms of women and men. We have sought to raise public awareness on gender equality, reproductive rights and reproductive health of women, men and adolescents, to talk about joint work of the Women’s Union of Turkmenistan and the UN agencies to introduce a gender perspective into the preparatory processes and the adoption of strategic decisions. In addition to issuing the newspaper, together with UNFPA, our creative group held a series of seminars and several national conferences for journalists, which revealed the key points of gender relations in access to decision-making, employment, education, health, family relations, the education of girls and boys, and their reflection in the national media.

Today the word “gender” is no longer strange in our society. Most of my fellow citizens understand what constitutes the essence of this concept. Here are two stories from the present to illustrate how society understands the gender concept.

Two young women discuss a friend who has faced disrespectful attitude from a young man.  

-          She is the one to blame if she allows a man to behave this way towards her.

-   You are not right, if you believe this, then by the same logic, a woman shall always perceive insults from her husband or his family and violence against her in the family as deserved as a punishment for the wrong behavior from their point of view. This is the result of a low self-esteem of a woman, and I think that if a woman is afraid to say that she is mistreated in the family, she will always be humiliated. A woman should know that the law prohibits violence in the family, in any form: the prohibition to leave the house alone, to communicate with friends, threatening to kick out from home and to intimidate that there is no place to go. While woman considers violence in the family as her private affair, she and her children are in danger.

The conversation of two young people.

-          Does your wife work?

-          No, she is a housewife. I provide everything for her, why would she work?

-          And who helps her around the house?

-          No one. Why? We have all home appliances: a washing machine, a vacuum cleaner, a dishwasher, an electric oven, a pressure cooker.

-          And have you ever tried to stay at home for one day instead of your wife? When my wife got sick and went to the hospital, I was left alone with all the household duties. And now I understand that the household chores that a woman performs are the same work as an eight-hour working day at the company.

I think that if we continue the correct gender education of both women and men, this will be an important step towards strengthening mutual respect. Gender equality is important for every family member. Gender equality is an important factor for country's sustainable social and economic development. For the media, gender should remain a strategic area of coverage. This topic provides many opportunities to realize professional and creative potential of journalists, and will be a worthy contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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