On July 27, 2021, the Ministry for Support of Mahalla and Family of the Republic of Uzbekistan signed a grant agreement with international partners. It will help fund the implementation of the project "Enhancing Economic Opportunities for Rural Women in Uzbekistan". For these purposes, the Government of Japan is providing a grant of over US$2.7 million. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Mahalla and Family Support in remote villages of Jizzakh and Fergana regions with the support of the World Bank.
The purpose of the project "Enhancing Economic Opportunities for Rural Women in Uzbekistan" is to develop entrepreneurial skills among women living in remote rural areas of the country and are included in the so-called "women's notebook", as well as to provide employment and expand economic opportunities for their families.
In recent years, Uzbekistan has been implementing major reforms aimed at creating equal rights and opportunities for women and men, ensuring the equal participation of women in public and societal life, their social and legal support, as well as protection from oppression and violence.
To provide social and economic support to women and maximize its impact, the Government introduced a “women's notebook” system. Under this system, databases were created to identify, solve and track the problems of unemployed women in need of social, economic, legal, psychological support, the development of relevant knowledge and vocational training.
For instance, to develop women's entrepreneurship, more than 224,000 women received preferential loans totaling 6.9 trillion soums. To support this activity, the authorities attracted Xalq Bank and established the Centers for Women's Entrepreneurship in 14 regions of the country.
Women account for over 30 percent of commercial bank clients who receive microloans. Thus, more than 172,000 women received microfinance totaling 4.9 trillion soums. As a result, the number of women starting their own businesses has increased by 45,000 people a year.
The Government pays special attention to the improvement of living conditions and basic social infrastructure in remote rural areas, as well as poverty reduction by supporting the economic activity of local women. Today, over 1.5 million women work in various sectors of agriculture. Women run 20 percent of businesses, as well as 7.3 percent of farms across the country.
Uzbekistan is expanding cooperation with international organizations to provide greater social and economic support for women. Another example of such cooperation is the project “Enhancing Economic Opportunities for Rural Women in Uzbekistan”.
A grant agreement that will help implement the project was signed today with the participation of Rakhmat Mamatov, Minister for Support of the Mahalla and Family, Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan, and Yoshinori Fujiyama, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Uzbekistan.
The project will be funded by a grant of US $2.728 million from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF). It will allow to implement the relevant project activities in 2021-2024 in rural areas of Furkat, Sokh, Yazyavan and Kushtepa districts of Fergana region, as well as Yangiabad, Bakhmal, Farish and Zaamin districts of Jizzakh region.
The project consists of two stages. During the first phase, 3,500 women living in the above-mentioned districts and in need of social protection will undergo training to develop knowledge in the field of financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills.
During the second stage, women will be involved in entrepreneurial activity and will be able to implement 350 business projects in various areas. For their implementation, grants totaling US$1.5 million will be allocated. Business projects financed by local commercial banks will also be implemented.
The project will further strengthen partnerships between government agencies, public organizations, business entities and mahalla citizens' gatherings in their work to support women in need of social protection.