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Title: Livelihood, empowerment and conflict resolution in the lives of indigenous women in Uzbekistan
Authors: Tursunova, Zulfiya
Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Manitoba
Date: 2012
Publisher: Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, CA
Abstract: This dissertation examines women’s and their household members’ livelihood constraints and the choices they make, diversification in response to land tenure changes in rural development, and resilience mechanisms of the newly emerging livelihood activities of dehqons,1 farmers, and traders in rural areas in Tashkent oblast2 in post-Soviet Uzbekistan. Women’s coping, preserving, and accumulating resilience demonstrate their capabilities for transforming and mobilizing assets to develop livelihood activities and meet basic needs; and the ways in which people are able to diversify livelihood activities by intensifying current livelihood activities and expanding them through social networks with the state and markets. The livelihood analysis is complemented by the examination of two types of women’s savings networks: (1) indigenous3 saving networks such as gap, and (2) savings networks that are local and emerged during Soviet times such as chernaya kassa. These savings networks serve as a livelihood resilience mechanism for social and economic empowerment in the Tashkent region. These networks represent a collective movement and action against the economic dependency of women on men and the state micro-loan bank system to which women at the grassroots level do not resort to. These social and economic networks that do not require external donor interventions and function outside the mainstream economic assessment, have been able to empower women for social justice, redistribution of resources, knowledge, voice, and conflict resolution in ways that are vital for community development. Using in-depth interviews and narrative methodology, this study examines such ceremonies as mavlud, ihson, Bibi Seshanba (Lady Tuesday) and Mushkul Kushod (Solver of Difficulties), and healing practices, grassroots peacebuilding methods. Many local healers and otins4 understand the structural roots of inequalities which decrease women’s access to resources and consequently their fair distribution and women’s choices. These religious leaders use their discursive knowledge, based on Islam, Sufism, shamanism, and animism to challenge and transform women’s subordination, abuse, limited property rights, unemployment, domestic violence, and other practices that impinge on women’s needs and rights. These female religious leaders, through different ceremonial practices, create space for raising the critical consciousness of women which transforms the social order to remake power relations, identities, and gender ideologies in families and communities. This research shows how women’s approach to community development is built on knowledge, power, and action achieved through (1) livelihood mobilisation and gap and chernaya kassa; (2) healing; (3) reclaiming sacred space and action; (4) ecological peacebuilding; and (5) agency. This system of community development shows how women’s agency can reorganise male dominated gendered space as an alternative to the hierarchical elite-driven Women’s Committees and state court systems established in Soviet times. Women’s discursive knowledge, inner authority, and agency help households move from poverty to multidimensional empowerment: spiritual, economic, social, cultural, human, financial, ecological, and psychological.
Project Number: 105407
Project Title: IDRC Corporate Awards 2008-2009
Access: IDRC Only
Copyright: Zulfiya Tursunova
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