Increasing of gender inequality has become one of the major characteristics of the post-Soviet period in the Kyrgyz Republic. Unfair distribution of resources, patriarchal norms and values, reduced employment opportunities for women, closure of kindergartens, child-care facilities and social support institutions, and worsening of medical services contribute to this process. As a result of these feminization of poverty enhanced, maternal and child mortality rates (as per the 2010 Second MDG Progress Report in the Kyrgyz Republic) and level of gender based violence highly increased, women are increasingly sidelined and excluded from decision-making. There is only one woman among 23 members of the Kyrgyz government.
As a result of a 2.5-year national advocacy campaign of women’s movement of Kyrgyzstan, special measures meant to ensure gender equality in representation in the national legislative body have been introduced into the Election Code in 2007 which led to 22 percent of women MPs in the current parliament. It makes Kyrgyzstan a leader in this issue in the Central Asian region.
Making gender equality a reality is a core commitment of UNDP globally. In the context of UNDP Global Cooperation Framework, “gender” is no longer highlighted as a separate focus area, but as a cross-cutting theme that needs to be integrated, or mainstreamed, into all areas of UNDP's work. As a result, in 2003 UNDP Kyrgyzstan began applying a multifaceted approach to promoting gender equality in all areas of its development work, with the active participation of the government, civil society and local communities, including actors who have not been engaged in gender equality and mainstreaming activities before.
By applying two complementary approaches to achieving gender equality – ‘mainstreaming gender’ and ‘women's empowerment’ – UNDP, in collaboration with other UN agencies such as UN Women, UNICEF and UNFPA, has played a significant role in creating an enabling environment for gender equality in Kyrgyzstan. It provides ongoing financial and technical support to the national institutional mechanisms on gender equality and civil society organizations. In addition, the UN system has played a key role in engendering national strategies and policies. Among key achievements are UN advocacy for the introduction of gender dimension into the Election Code in 2007, the 2007-2010 Country Development Strategy, the Constitution in 2010, institutionalization of gender expertise of legislation in the parliament and creating the Alliance of Women’s Legislative Initiatives uniting 75 NGOs and 84 individuals, including 22 female MPs from the previous and current parliaments. All of these resulted from the cooperation with a range of national partners among women’s networks.
UNDP Kyrgyzstan tackles gender equality through policy advice, capacity development of both national partners and internal UNDP staff, and advocacy. Since it is a cross-cutting issue, gender is an indispensable part of all UNDP activities in the country and is integrated in the work of Poverty Reduction, Democratic Governance, HIV/AIDS, Environment Protection and Sustainable Development, Disaster Risk Management and Peace and Development programmes. A few examples of UNDP’s portfolio on gender include its support for the development of the national action plans for gender development, gender mainstreaming in the national ministries and agencies, studies and on burning issues such as feminization of poverty, gender analysis of public policy and legislation, promotion of women in decision making and a wide range of capacity-development activities on gender equality for media, government officials and civil society organizations.