UNODC advocates for women leadership in Central Asia

Women are on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organisers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burden women often carry.

This year's theme for International Women’s Day, "Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world", celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNODC acknowledges the fundamental importance of women's equal participation in decision-making, equal pay for equal work, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work and access to healthcare services that respond to women's needs. UNODC advocates for the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls and is committed to ensuring that a gender perspective is actively and visibly mainstreamed in all its practices, policies, and programmes.

UNODC honours women's significant contribution to make the world safer from drugs, crime, corruption, and terrorism and in promoting peace, security, and sustainable development. We invite you to read the following stories of women at the forefront in law enforcement, border management, forensics, justice, and healthcare from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.


“Nowadays, it is less and less common to hear the phrase "tender gender" about women. This has nothing to do with women becoming more masculine, but with the fact that women are indispensable in all spheres of life and should be treated as such in all sectors, including those previously dominated by men.

Many experts see the Coronavirus pandemic as a chance to narrow the gender gap. In the fight against Covid-19, women have been at the forefront, saving lives and helping others.

Our work at the Academy also changed during the pandemic. We conducted our work differently: we shifted to webinars, shot video lectures, organised blended round tables and seminars which made it easier to reach our officers from different regions and working in various functional areas. We were involved in patrol work during the lockdown and organised humanitarian assistance to those who needed it".

 Ms. Elena Fedotova,

Police Colonel, Head of the Centre for

Training of Psychologists and Social Studies

at the Kostanay Police Academy of the Ministry

of Interiorof the Republic of Kazakhstan


"Since childhood, I always dreamed of joining the army and today, I am a Lieutenant Colonel of Justice and Department Head at the Prison Committee.

My father always said, “My daughter, it is your life, do what you find enjoyable,” which became my life principle. Although they are supportive, my family used to worry about my work. I told them, “someone has to do this, why not me?” Now they understand and respect my career choice. When the pandemic started, I worked in a women's colony, and the biggest challenge was in ensuring the safety and health of the inmates amidst this global health crisis. It is gratifying to see how seriously every employee took the responsibility of meeting the sanitary and hygiene requirements.

I enjoy what I do and feel that it is my responsibility to impart my knowledge and experience to build the next generation of leaders among our young employees".

Ms. Bibigul Munaytpasova,

Lieutenant Colonel, Head of the Department

of Educational and Socio-psychological Work

among Convicts of the Prison Committee under

the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Kazakhstan



"Involving women at both the global and local levels leads to better problem solving based on diversity of thoughts and consideration of different perspectives. The pandemic in our country has shown that women, no matter what, can overcome any difficulties. At the Republican Narcology Centre –we worked tirelessly in the "red zone" to save our patients’ lives.

The Narcology Centre worked on all fronts, including community-acquired pneumonia, while still maintaining medical services for patients with substance use disorders. During the quarantine, we saw a significant increase in substance abuse and responded accordingly by setting up a treatment algorithm for patients with substance abuse disorders. UNODC’s timely assistance, providing us with personal protective equipment, ensured we could keep the work going in the “red zone.”

Ms. Zhyldyz Bakirova,

Deputy Director for Treatment Work

at the Republican Center for Narcology

of the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic


During the COVID-19 pandemic, prolonged self-confinement and isolation were psychologically challenging for many citizens of the country. Violence against women increased. According to the Ministry of Interior, the number of domestic violence cases in the Kyrgyz Republic went up by 61.7% during the quarantine period.

The Women’s Committees, which we helped establish under Local Crime Prevention Centers in various new settlements around Bishkek with the support of UNODC in 2019, are needed more than ever. So much became clear during the pandemic when the Women’s Committees organised temporary shelters and provided material assistance. In partnership with local authorities, we helped many victims of domestic violence in this manner.

Ms. Baken Dosalieva,

Head of the Women Support Centre



I have been working at the customs service for over 20 years. The job is challenging and not always easy, but seeing the great importance of our work for society imbues me with a sense of pride. It is gratifying to see that every year, more and more women apply for jobs at the customs service.

During the pandemic, due to border closures, the decrease in passenger and cargo movements did not decrease our workload, but rather required us to stay vigilant. In order to enhance our capacity to continually serve our country, we took part in several UNODC training courses. We also conducted an extensive awareness-raising campaign to prevent the spread of the disease among the general population.

 Ms. Zarina Abrorova,

Lieutenant Colonel,

Chief Inspector of the Department of

Countering Customs Offences, Customs Service

under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan



"Working in our forensic laboratory is not an easy task and I have had to overcome various difficulties, including gender stereotypes. Having the support of my family, my colleagues and the laboratory’s management is of the utmost importance to keep me going and I have never regretted the choices I made.

Our work is extremely important as we process material evidence, such as bodily fluids (blood, urine, semen), hair, nails, food debris, drinks, plants treated with pesticides, clothing, household and other items. We also conduct chemical analysis to determine the presence of drugs, poison or other potent substances.

With UNODC support, we are now improving our quality management system. We started participating in international programs, such as UNODC’s International Collaborative Exercises, which allows us to engage in proficiency tests to assess the performance of our drug testing laboratory.  With these new insights, we hope to pursue international accreditation for our bureau in line with ISO requirements".

Ms. Sakhra Artykova,

Head of the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory

of the Central Forensic Bureau under the Ministry

of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan



"I have always looked up to judges with reverence, realising the responsible nature of their work. After university, I worked as a lawyer for 13 years. During that time, I was offered a judgeship several times. Initially, I refused. I thought I wasn’t ready. When I finally accepted the offer, I found the burden of responsibility for the fate of people who depended on my fair and accurate decisions quite daunting. It seems to me that the key to success for a judge is the constant realisation that we work for the sake of security and justice in society.

There are currently more than 160 women judges in Uzbekistan. While there are no legal obstacles for women in Uzbekistan to become a judge, there might be domestic barriers associated with the traditional expectation for women to prioritise family obligations before a career. When I was raising my child, I mistakenly thought it would be difficult to combine these responsibilities, but if you have the support of your loved ones, anything is possible".

Ms. Sanobar Mamadalieva,

Judge of the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan


"I was the eldest child, so my parents often trusted me to resolve my siblings' squabbles. They said, "Sveta will find a just solution". As a child, I took such trust very seriously, and that became my defining characteristic.

My parents often mentioned the district prosecutor as a fair, honest and impartial person who is true to his principles. Despite the numerous recommendations of school teachers to study mathematics or physics, I chose law and insisted on becoming a prosecutor, like the one who impressed my parents so much. As fate would have it, he later became my first mentor".

Ms. Svetlana Artikova,

Deputy General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Article in Russian language 

This project was coordinated by Vasilina Brazhko with the support from the UNODC ROCA Communication team: Sultan (Kazakhstan); Nurangez Abdulhamidova (Tajikistan); Rustam Babayev (Turkmenistan) and Shakhnoza Zafari (Uzbekistan)


For all inquiries, please contact Vasilina Brazhko (Ms.)

Communication and PR Specialist,


at +996775987817 (WhatsApp and Telegramme)

or by e-mail: vasilina.brazhko [at]