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Gender Programming

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USAID programs help to empower women in the Kyrgyz Republic
USAID programs help to empower women in the Kyrgyz Republic
Kairatbek Murzakimov / USAID/Kyrgyz Republic



USAID Agro Horizon increases productivity and improves livelihoods by helping women-led households, women-owned businesses in agriculture, and women farmers to access agricultural information, services, and inputs. The project emphasizes the inclusion of female-led households because pervasive marginalization places this group in a position of extraordinary need.  More than 20,000 women farmers in Osh, Naryn, Jalalabad, and Bakten that grow vegetables and fruit crops were trained by the project, and now have expanded access to inputs, finance, and markets. These women have used their new skills and knowledge to manage and grow their agriculture businesses, increasing their household incomes as a result. 

Business Development

The USAID Business Growth Initiative (BGI) directly supports women-owned businesses in key economic sectors such as tourism and apparel. It partners with local organizations to provide business training and management skills for women.  Through the project, more than 2,000 women have gained new technical skills. Women entrepreneurs that employ these skills are better able to manage their businesses and enjoy more equitable access to finance and production technologies. BGI builds on lessons learned through the recent USAID Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) activity, which worked to address women’s relative absence in the SME sector. WLSME provided training and links to new markets for women entrepreneurs, resulting in improved management practices and increases in household income for women entrepreneurs.



Women living with HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) in the Kyrgyz Republic often suffer social isolation and mistreatment by community and family members, decreasing their access to diagnosis, care, and treatment.  In order to reduce this stigma, USAID trains health care providers with the Red Crescent Society and the Republican Health Center in new approaches to patient management and psychosocial counseling. These techniques help TB patients to avoid and cope with discrimination, and to access and stay on treatment regimens.  USAID also partners with community leaders in religious schools, mosques, hospitals, and community meetings to deliver positive messages tailored to the different concerns of both men and women.  For example, on World TB Day the Khutbah (sermon) in 1,770 mosques across the country highlighted the importance of TB treatment and non-stigmatization of women TB patients.


Gender-based violence (GBV) correlates strongly with HIV infection in the Kyrgyz Republic.  USAID’s efforts to combat GBV not only address an injustice predominantly suffered by women, but also serve to stem the HIV epidemic. Since June 2016, USAID has provided counseling to 1,395 people living with HIV (PLHIV) and 588 sexual partners of PLHIV, who learned about the prevention of and positive responses to gender-based violence.  USAID also works with the only detention center for female inmates in the country to support the provision of HIV diagnosis, care, and treatment to 300 female prisoners.


The USAID SPRING project works with women leaders to promote better nutrition behaviors in Naryn City, six rayons across Naryn oblast, and 11 rayons and seven townships across Jalalabad oblast. Women community leaders, along with 2,600 volunteers (95% of who are female), deliver messages on nutrition, breastfeeding, complimentary feeding, personal hygiene, clean latrines, and food preservation and storage. Project volunteers have reached more than a million men, women, and children altogether. SPRING has also trained 5,600 health providers on infant and young child feeding (IYCF), nutrition for pregnant women, and the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.  Additionally, the project supports 281 health facilities, where nearly 227,000 mothers have received nutrition counselling, and 53,000 women have received improved anemia services.



Since 2011, USAID has supported the Forum of Women Members of Parliament (MPs), representing all 21 female MPs in the Jogorku Kenesh. Through the National Democratic Institute, USAID provides the Forum’s members with professional training in public speaking, negotiation skills, media outreach, and managing constituent services. USAID also sponsors conferences in order to strengthen ties between women politicians and political activists at national and regional levels, and to increase women’s knowledge and influence in policy-making. These efforts have helped to galvanize support for legislation that defends women’s rights and addresses gender inequality, including requiring gender quotas in local elections, banning early marriages, and strengthening punishments for bride kidnapping.

In addition, USAID invests in the financial and managerial self-sustainability of the Zhenskaya Demokratichyskaya Set (ZDS). ZDS, now a part of the global Women’s Democratic Network, is an association of over 4,000 women local councilors, community leaders, political party members, business leaders, and other politically active citizens.  By supporting their work, USAID widens the window for the women of the Kyrgyz Republic to take an active role in political and civic life.

Civil Society

The USAID Collaborative Governance Program (CGP) works to decrease domestic violence, promote women’s rights, enable cooperation among women-leaders, and empower young leaders and female entrepreneurs in all seven oblasts of the country. CGP provides grants to civil society organizations that work with the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to implement the National Gender Action Plan.  For example, CGP supported the Association of Crises Centers in advocating for the draft Law on Safeguarding and Protection from Domestic Violence, which was adopted by Parliament and signed by the President in April 2017.  CGP also recently supported the NGO Women Support Center to deliver messages to more than two million people on criminal liability for bride kidnapping.

Counter-Trafficking Programs

The USAID Dignity and Rights (DAR) project works with Parliament, the State Migration Service, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to prevent human trafficking and protect the victims of trafficking, who are often women and girls. The project sponsors national level advocacy, policy debate, and informational campaigns to inform the public and policymakers on the issues that migrant women and female victims of human trafficking face. In addition, the project provides funding for two residential shelters, one in Bishkek and one in Osh, where receive medical care and other services, including psychological counseling, vocational education, and employment coaching. So far, USAID has provided 79 women victims of trafficking with reintegration support services.