The UN CEDAW recommends Turkmenistan to provide equal opportunities for women in employment

Having considered the state report of Turkmenistan at the 87th session, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women gave the country’s authorities important recommendations on many articles of the Convention.

A number of them relate to gender equality in the field of employment. An alternative report by ADC Memorial to the Committee indicated that, despite the abolition of the “list of prohibited professions”, in Turkmenistan – an authoritarian country with prevailing patriarchal traditions – a huge number of women are formally unemployed and engaged in unpaid domestic work or involved in the informal economy, which does not allow them to be financially independent and socially protected.

The Committee noted the persistence of vertical and horizontal segregation in the labor market, the disproportionate burden of women’s domestic work, the lack of opportunities for women’s professional development and other violations of gender equality in employment, as well as forced labor of women. The experts recommended that effective measures be taken to increase women’s access to leadership positions and higher-paying jobs, including in traditionally male-dominated professions; promote equal sharing of household and child care responsibilities between women and men through measures such as improving childcare facilities, part-time and distance work for women and men, parental leave for men; hold employers accountable for discrimination against women. The Committee calls for an immediate end to forced labor in the cotton industry and to pay special attention to working conditions in this sector of the economy.

Unfortunately, violations of LGBTI+ rights in Turkmenistan were not reflected in the Committee’s recommendations, although civil society informed experts that they are in a difficult situation and face homophobia and discrimination in all spheres of life, including employment, education, family life, personal relationships, commercial and public services. NGOs defending LGBTI+ rights are unable to register and work openly; The odious article 135 of the Criminal Code criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual relations between adult men has not yet been repealed.

The situation of transgender people in Turkmenistan is extremely difficult. The law does not say anything about the possibilities, grounds and procedures for gender reassignment by transgender persons, while the law allows intersex persons to change their last name and first name “in connection with a sex change.” Transgender persons have to undergo surgical correction abroad, but it is impossible to change their documents. Due to the impossibility of professional realization, they often find themselves involved in prostitution and become victims of police raids. Transphobic police violence and harassment against transgender people is particularly violent and includes physical, psychological and sexual violence, threats and harassment. Transgender women are in a more difficult position than men, both because of visibility and the associated public condemnation, and because of gender discrimination.


For more information on the violation of LGBTI+ rights in Turkmenistan, see the report of ADC Memorial and partner organizations LGBTI+ in the region of Central Asia: repressions, discrimination, exclusion” (2020).







Background photo by nathan.groth CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed

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