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Uzbekistan has achieved substantial progress in expanding opportunities for women and girls in recent years. The Government of Uzbekistan together with international organisations and civil society is implementing prominent policies to promote gender equality. The private sector is taking bold steps on this front as well, with more and more companies realising the importance of promoting an inclusive and empowering work environment for all employees. 

In an attempt to identify best practices in Uzbekistan on this forefront, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, conducted a series of interviews with the managers. This effort is a part of a broader research project “Gender Equality in the Workplace in Uzbekistan” conducted by UNFPA together with WIUT, the Westminster International University in Tashkent.

Why is it in the best interest of the companies to promote gender equality in the workplace? “People and the talent of the people are the assets of the company, regardless if they are women or men.” - says Yu Yu, UNFPA Representative in Uzbekistan. Indeed, according to international studies, organizations supporting gender equality and family-friendly practices can better attract and retain talent, leading to their improved productivity and improved reputation on the market. In turn, that leads to stronger business results. A 2020 study* of FTSE 350 companies demonstrated that firms where more than one-third executive roles are occupied by women have a profit margin more than 10 times greater than those with lower share of women in management.

In Uzbekistan, many fircompaniesms already realise the value of an inclusive environment. Interviewed managers highlight a variety of tools that can serve as a source of inspiration for other organisations willing to take the steps towards promoting gender equality in the workplace.

One example is to create a culture of equality in the company. Gender equality comes first of all from awareness, and companies can initiate training of their managers and employees to overcome bias and different attitudes towards people of different sex. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that everyone is treated according to their skills and accomplishments, for example by increasing transparency in the recruitment and promotion policies. “We do not have a fear or phobia about hiring women, because they will either get married or have children soon. [...] Because for us the most important thing is the expert and the experience that she/he will bring to our organization.” - notes Jamila Xalibaeva, Creative Director, IT Park. 

Another effective practice is the tools that allow combining work and family duties, such as flexible and remote working, additional compensation for new parents, and corporate childcare facilities for employees. These measures are particularly effective for enabling women to re-integrate into the workforce after giving birth. “We have had numerous cases when female employees gave birth and then returned to work 2-3 months later. We organised for them a flexible working schedule” - shares Muzaffar Qosimov, Co-founder at Humo Partners. 

There are many other tools for companies to promote gender equality. Some of them can be implemented at almost zero cost, while still having a significant positive impact on women and businesses. We encourage all organisations to rethink their talent strategy and take the first steps towards promoting gender equality. It’s time to act now!

* The Pipeline. 2020. Women Count 2020. Role, Value, and Number of Female Executives in the FTSE 35. London. Available online: 

* This video is made only for informational purposes and has no intention of advertising any of the mentioned companies.