The story of Aigul or how UNDP supports digital skills and accelerating digitalization in remote areas of Kyrgyzstan

October 19, 2023

Aigul Zhamaldinova (in the center) and other participants of Sanarip Ayimdar initiative.

UNDP Kyrgyzstan

“It all started during my maternity leave. I have three toddlers, and while sitting at home I began to learn useful information to keep up my kids’ physical and mental health and improve their speech development and fine motor skills. I found this to be a common challenge for many modern mothers. The problem was that almost all evidence-based information was in English and Russian, and many young mothers in my community in Batken found it difficult to perceive the information due to the language barrier. I wanted to share the information I learn and my experience with my children”. 

This is the story of Aigul Zhamaldinova. She is one of the hundred participants of UNDP led initiative “Sanarip Ayimdar” [“Women in IT”] and one of five participants from Batken province, which is the most remote region in the country. 

This initiative aims to promote economic empowerment through digital learning and developing IT skills leadership and entrepreneurship among girls and young women aged 15 to 34 years.

«When I learned about “Sanarip Ayimdar” and the opportunity to go through the training in digital skills, I was very interested. Moreover, I had mixed feelings about not developing myself as I was on maternity leave for a couple of years. However, I had a great desire to learn something new and find income while sitting at home with children. I was already looking at the information on how to start a blog, I was subscribed to different bloggers, and I already had some ideas about starting my own blog but lacked the required skills, particularly for video editing. Therefore, among the courses offered, I signed up for a mobilography course, which offered practical classes on developing professional photos and videos. Most importantly for me, was that it was offered among offline courses since I wanted to improve my practical skills. Today, having completed the training, I independently create interesting amateur, educational, and entertaining videos for my social networks where I share how I develop the fine motor skills of my children and share our results. I keep the content in Kyrgyz language to help mothers who do not speak other languages to learn pragmatic information on the general development of children.” – says Aigul.

Aigul receives a certificate of completion of the "Sanarip Ayimdar" initiave from UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Monica Rijal.

UNDP Kyrgyzstan

The Sanarip Ayimdar Initiative is part of UNDP's efforts to promote decent employment through digital skills and accelerate digitalization in remote areas of Kyrgyzstan, thereby contributing to social cohesion and reducing the digital divide with a special focus on women and girls.

Most of the pilot communities are multinational and located in border areas. In recent years, due to the negative effects of COVID-19, these communities have experienced greater socioeconomic impacts.

“The digital divide, or technology gap, is the difference between social groups that have access to technology and the Internet and those that do not. Girls and women often have less access to technology and the Internet, especially in rural areas. UNDP supports ways to bridge the digital divide by expanding access to technology and education in the use of technology while promoting the idea of non-violent communication online and when using digital tools and social networks, contributing to the implementation of the principle of “do no harm” in the digital/online space. That’s why we support initiatives that provide educational resources, learning opportunities, and access to information, expanding digital access, and making a meaningful contribution to closing the digital gender divide,” says Nargiza Tashtemirova, UNDP Project Specialist for Governance and Peacebuilding.

In this regard, UNDP also supported the Youth Center in Batken by providing IT equipment to create an environment for bringing young people together to develop their knowledge and meaningful participation, which prevents outbreaks of violence and promotes peacebuilding and social cohesion. Aigul studied mobilography courses there. 


“I know that there are many courses on YouTube for those who wish to learn mobilography, however, what made the Sanarip Atimdar initiative more accessible to me and other participants was that the training was conducted in the Kyrgyz language since many women in the regions speak neither Russian nor English. That is why, when I first started the course, I set a clear goal for myself that after completing the course I would share my knowledge with girls like me and teach them in the Kyrgyz language. - says Aigul.

UNDP supports local development initiatives in rural areas of Kyrgyzstan by creating opportunities for young women and girls to boost their economic empowerment and increase their participation in digital technology and innovation. 

Aigul exceeded her expectations because she did not stop only with the idea of a mobilography course. She independently launched two streams of online courses, began filming and editing expert videos, and began professional blogging, where she shares motivation and experience with a special focus on girls and young women.

Aigul and other participants of the Moscow Business Camp

This month, Aigul visited Moscow to participate in a business camp on the development and monetization of knowledge in the online sphere. She plans to launch another online and offline course on mobilography together with another participant of the “Sanarip Ayimdar” initiative and will soon open a photo studio and begin providing services for residents in Batken.

“I am the youngest daughter-in-law among 10 others, probably those who live in rural areas will understand me and agree that starting a business in such a case is not easy. However, I succeeded thanks to the support of my husband and family. I am grateful to the project that participation in it helped me overcome fear and believe in myself!”

Aigul and her children