TASHKENT -- Uzbekistani women marked International Women's Day with reason to celebrate their growing role in all walks of life.
Today, women comprise 36 to 50% of political party membership nationwide and the majority of civil servants in some agencies, like the Health and Public Education ministries, according to the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan.
In all, female representation at all levels of government grew from 3.4% in 2005 to 17.1% in 2016, according to the committee.
According to a survey conducted by the Tashkent-based Ijtimoiy Fikr polling firm, more than 70% of the female respondents in the December 30 poll expressed confidence they would play a growing role in building the state and society.
Women responding to polls clearly understand the value of professional education, Ijtimoiy Fikr Director Rano Ubaidullayeva said, commenting on the survey results in the "People's Word" newspaper March 11.
"The modern Uzbekistani woman is a socially active, educated individual with professional skills ... building her career and becoming directly involved in the state and society," she said.
Violation of women's rights still goes on in some households, where in-laws might "tyrannise" a woman or husbands might commit domestic violence, Nodira Azizova, a spokeswoman for the Women's Committee, told Caravanserai. However, women's rights are enshrined by law and they have every right to choose their own career or path in life, she added.
"Our culture has a distinct mixture of western and eastern values," Tashkent resident Jasurbek Rakhimov told Caravanserai. "Nobody disputes women's right to equality."
Women play a vital role in maintaining social peace, said President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in remarks at a pre-International Women's Day celebration on March 6.
"Keeping ... our children away from alien ideas and any threats is particularly pressing for us," he said in Tashkent, according to his press office. "It is very important for us to rely first and foremost on leading members of mahallas [neighbourhood associations]."
Women compromise more than 87% of the religious educators/consultants in the country's roughly 9,700 mahallas, according to Mirziyoyev.
"Our consultant works closely with schools, families, and law enforcement agencies," Khilola Makhmudova, a prominent member of the Yangi Obod mahalla in Tashkent, told Caravanserai. "She shields youths from all sorts of destructive influences like extremism and drugs ... She discusses problems with youths and helps police crime prevention inspectors."
Women on the front lines
Uzbekistani women are represented in the ranks of law enforcement and the military too, as they and officials made clear in the run-up to Women's Day.
Policewomen serve as detectives, forensic investigators, guards and in many other capacities, Interior Minister Abdusalom Azizov said at a pre-Women's Day celebration in Tashkent on March 6, according to the Uzbekistan National News Agency.
Senior Lieut. Guzal Ishankhojayeva is one of them. She works as a psychologist-inspector at the Tashkent police department, helping her colleagues adjust to their job conditions.
"The way men and women work together on the job strengthens the force," she told "On Guard", the Interior Ministry's in-house newspaper, on March 3. "That's why in recent years women make up an ever-growing part of police departments."
Women also serve in the military. Although they are not drafted, they may sign up as professional (contract) troops in non-combat units.
The military includes some two-income couples, like the Ibrokhimovs.
"I'm proud to be among those who honourably serve in defence of the motherland," Munira Ibrokhimova told "Vatanparvar", the Defence Ministry's in-house newspaper, March 10. "My husband and I have served in the armed forces for 10 years now."