I had a conversation today with a leader of one of the women’s NGOs about the new election code which introduced the temporary measures on increasing the number of women in parliament. Now the party lists have to include no more than 70% of the people of one gender. The Kyrgyz parties are out for finding women. But they put a woman as every fourth person on party lists.
A story I heard recently was about two young sisters who were upset with their female neighbor for burying a charmed apple into a male chestnut tree in their garden. The apple was charmed by a traditional fortune teller who was helping the neighbor to arrange a marriage. The neighbor got married within a short period after she buried the apple. The sisters who are in Kyrgyz tradition past marriage age (over 20) were angry because the charmed apple could have turned away potential husbands from them. This story illustrate some of the traditional beliefs that give supernatural powers to traditional healers and fortune tellers which help usually in situations within gendered frames. For example, a young woman called crisis shelter hotline crying because she could not get out a charmed stone out of her vagina. The woman was desperate to get her boyfriend to marry her and was advised by the healer to use the stone as a tool. A transsexual person reported being forced to meet with various healers and fortune tellers and drink charmed liquids, tea and experience the healing touch in different parts. His family wanted to cure their child of acting outside of the gender boundaries, the healing did not help.
Just two signs from the Friday newspapers: there were more photos of women than usual in Vecherniy Bishkek (evening Bishkek) and MSN newspaper mentioned ‘Ata Meken’ party congress with two female names in the beginning of the article.
The women joining this opposition party are both coming from strong NGOs. Namely Educational Center Interbilim which serves as an umbrella organization for NGOS and Legal Clinic ‘Adilet’ which provides quality legal services to different NGOs and disadvantaged groups. An advertisement with Zamira Akbagysheva, leader of Congress of Women of the Kyrgyz Republic, was published in Friday issue of Vecherniy Bishkek.
MSN newspaper reports that a conference on breast cancer was held in Bishkek. The statistics in Kyrgyzstan show that it is number one type of cancer among Kyrgyz women. In the world every ninth woman is at risk of developing breast cancer. The medical specialists in Kyrgyzstan say that they have good treatment techniques but the disease has to be diagnozed early.