Firuzah is a 44-year-old married woman from Tajikistan. She had a difficult time adapting from economic dependency when her husband was deported from Russia, where he worked as a labour migrant, and lost his job.
When Firuzah’s husband lost his job and could no longer provide for the family he became nervous and stressed. Although she understood it was hard for him and tried to be there to support him morally, she found herself navigating a number of difficult family issues, and they quarrelled a lot.
In 2016 Firuzah’s village was selected as one of the target villages for the International Alert-led project Zindagii Shoista ‘Living with dignity’. The project tackles violence through targeting families and challenging current gender norms by transforming attitudes and building channels of trust among family members thus empowering the disempowered. The project is part of the DFID-funded ‘What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls’ consortium managed by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC). International Alert is implementing the project in collaboration with Cesvi and three local NGOs in four villages of Tajikistan.
“I have participated in all sessions of the Zindagii Shoista and all sessions went well. We had a lot of discussion around family issues and all participants were able to discuss their family issues and stories. The start is always hard but gradually when we knew each other it became more interesting. All participants were active during discussions. I cannot say that I trusted everybody and it is impossible to evaluate people in a short period of time. However, I liked the approach when mother-in-law’s and daughters-in-law went through the sessions together. I liked both sessions (social and economic) and both of them made changes to my life. To maintain good relations with people and to be polite and supportive makes life easy and family issues and problems can be solved better via dialog and communication rather than quarrel.”
Firuzah’s daughter-in-law, a city girl, also attended the sessions with Firuzah’s daughter. After the economic sessions Firuzah learnt the best way of dividing up the daily chores fairly, so as to avoid conflict, and she also learnt how to make savings so she can plan for her family’s future.
“Now we have Moldovans in our village, usually they come with their family and do business here. I have several empty rooms in my house, Moldovan’s are renting them. Before I would never have thought about such incomes, now I know how to make money and save it too. Whenever I see my husband playing chess or nard, I always remind him not to waste your time, go and make money, there is no benefit from playing chess. My husband is a good master; he does plastering works and is well paid. I received a cow and its calf from the project. Before we had problems with milk, but now we have milk for our grandson. I also sell the milk, butter, chaka to our neighbors. Another source of family income.”
Firuzah’s daughter was saving money for her studies and has now graduated from a University foreign language department. While she teaches at the school, her mother helps look after her son. Firuzah also reported a change in her husband’s attitude;
“After the sessions, my husband has changed too, now he supports me. We try not to quarrel in front of our daughter-in-law. These sessions made me more wisdom. I remember a case when my neighbor had an event in her house and she invited me. I went there alone; my daughter-in-law stayed at home with her baby. After a few minutes my neighbor told me that my daughter-in-law is there and she sits with other guests in the other room. I did not say anything. After coming home, I talked to her about her behavior. I explained her mistake without, shouting or raising my voice. I said that I was invited to that event alone; it is not nice to go to other people house without invitation. If I made a big problem out of it, quarrelling and telling it to my son and husband I would destroy my son’s family. The problem was solved through dialog and advices.”