A sense of responsibility

An Interview with Nazik Akparova, Member of Village Council in Saruu, Kyrgyzstan

March 7, 2024

*This story was first published in 2020

I am 28 years old and I teach at the elementary school in Saruu village, located on the southern shore of Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan.

I decided to become a member of the village council in late August 2019, after a new law was passed to implement gender quotas for village councils in our country. That’s when I knew I actually had a chance.

My husband was very supportive; in fact, he actively helped with the election campaign. He thinks I can do great work for the benefit of our village.

Nine women were elected in our constituency. Men tried to scare us that we will have to work until late, that there are issues that women cannot understand or discuss and find solutions to, like irrigation. Didn’t the women in the village take part in irrigation and work until late? There is nothing terrible or incomprehensible for us in these matters. We were elected and we are not afraid of such difficulties.

More women were actually elected than the quota required.

Women candidates showed good results, one of them taking second place among 28 candidates. When the men wrote a letter to the President to say that they disagreed with the results, some of us considered giving up our seats. But then we decided to meet with women parliamentarians in Bishkek [the capital of Kyrgyzstan] and they inspired us to continue our fight. So, we came back and elected a woman as the head of the local council.

The status of local councillor for me is first and foremost about a sense of responsibility. I need to meet the expectations of the people who voted for me and do my best to improve the lives of all our people.

As a teacher and a local councillor, I am in a position to promote gender equality. I try to foster respect for the opposite gender, as respect is the basis for any relationship. I often think about the role of girls and women in our current society. We need to tell our girls about their rights and help them to pursue their dreams.

We all need more information about these issues to teach our children to do better.