Gulshan is an unmarried 21-year-old woman from Tajikistan, who aims to graduate from a University this year. She participated in the International Alert-led Zindagii Shoista - Living with Dignity’ project last year.
The International Alert-led project “Zindagii Shoista - Living with dignity” is tackling violence against women and girls through targeting families and challenging current gender norms by transforming attitudes, building channels of trust among family members and empowering the disempowered. The project is part of the DFID-funded ‘What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls?’ programme, headed by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC). International Alert is implementing the project in collaboration with Cesvi and three local NGOs in project in four villages of Tajikistan. As a whole, the project aims at preventing violence against women and girls (VAWG) and domestic violence (DV) by taking a comprehensive approach which includes women’s social and-economic empowerment through a tailored economic capacity-building program and changing societal attitudes through an adapted version of the ‘Stepping Stones’ approach in four villages. The project is making gradual transformations in the lives of the target beneficiaries and the life changing stories of each beneficiary have been unique and appealing.
Unfortunately, Gulshan could not attend the economic component of the project as she had to return to the city from her village to complete her studies. However, she reflected on the behavioural sessions;
“At the beginning, it was difficult to participate in discussions, gradually it changed. The group maintained confidentiality but I did not trust all of them. I am a shy person and before I have never dared to take part in discussions. After attending the sessions, I am more confident and can express my opinion. People should maintain good relations with each other and be polite and kind to each other. My grandmother says that I have changed. Unfortunately, I could not participate in economic sessions. My father taught me how to calculate and how to make saving. We received a cow from the project. I am the one who is dealing with sale of milk. After graduation, I want to enter the Design College. I want to be a Designer. I would like to learn embroidery and to contribute to family budget. A lot of my friends and neighbors are now asking about this project. They also want to participate and to learn something in order to improve their lives. I always recommend these kind of sessions of them. I hope in the future there will be more such kind of sessions for young women.”