Uzbekistan’s Journey with the Gender Equality Seal Programme

December 26, 2023
Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Have you ever contemplated the profound influence of public institutions in shaping our lives? Now, imagine them not just as bureaucratic entities but as agents of change for gender equality, that’s what we are trying to pursue in Uzbekistan! Yes, we embarked on a transformative journey with the Gender Equality Seal for Public Institutions. We were lucky to receive support and interest from the big gender equality champion in the face of Madame Tanzila Narbaeva, Chairperson of the Senate of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, who encouraged public institutions to participate. The launch of a capacity building exercise for the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan marked a significant milestone, celebrated by esteemed leaders and representatives from various institutions. At the heart of this initiative lies a fundamental truth: gender equality is not just a moral imperative but an important pillar to achieve sustainable development.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan
Understanding the What, Why, and How

The Gender Equality Seal Programme, pioneered by UNDP, is a global brand that aims to enable government counterparts to protect and advance women's rights and gender equality. It represents a comprehensive approach to dismantling gender disparities and working on them from within. Over a decade ago, the programme began crafting certification instruments to catalyze institutional change. This innovative initiative provides a clear roadmap, guiding institutions to meet global standards and benchmarks, aligning with Uzbekistan's national and international commitments.

Ancient wisdom reminds us: To change the world, one must first start with oneself. UNDP’s Country office in Uzbekistan has started this journey within the organization as part of Gender Equality Seal for Development. After two years of thorough analysis and transformation of internal and external processes, UNDP Uzbekistan qualified for SILVER Gender Equality Seal certification.

A Global Movement with Local Relevance

As of October 2023, 94 public institutions from 29 countries, spanning diverse sectors and governance levels, are actively engaged in implementing the Gender Equality Seal. The programme's flexibility ensures its relevance within specific national contexts, reflecting 23 different thematic sectors, involving both national and local institutions, and encompassing all branches of state power. Through meticulous sensitization efforts, over 160,000 public officers have honed their capacities, fostering gender-responsive policies and institutions. Ministry of Economy and Finance became a member of this growing international network of the leading fiscal institutions working to effectively contribute to gender equality. This entity is uniquely positioned to drive gender equality outcomes across government programmes to achieve international and national commitments, as holding the power of the purse.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan: Pioneering Change in Central Asia

Uzbekistan's Ministry of Economy and Finance stands at the threshold of becoming a global gender equality champion. This initiative will particularly enhance internal efficiency, encourages innovation, and attracts diverse talent, fostering a culture of inclusivity and accountability. Beyond national borders, this initiative spotlights Uzbekistan in the global arena, showcasing its dedication to an economy that works for all and widening its fiscal space through promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. However, the first institution that got on board with the Gender Equality Seal programme is the State Customs Committee under the Ministry of economy and finance that has already completed the first phase of preparatory workshops and self-assessment since it officially launched the programme in October 2022.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan
Commitments, Challenges and Global view

Yet, the path to gender equality is neither simple nor linear. It demands strong political will, technical expertise, and a paradigm shift in institutional thinking. The Gender Equality Seal is not a mere checklist; it is a comprehensive methodology aiming at developing and sustaining systemic change, a call to challenge ingrained stereotypes and traditional policies. It necessitates the active engagement of both men and women, fostering an environment where continuous improvement is not just encouraged but imperative. As Uzbekistan has embarked on this transformative journey, it is vital to recognize that this initiative signifies more than just a seal. It represents a promise—a commitment to a future where gender equality is not just an aspiration but a lived reality.

The Seal's impact reverberates globally through inspiring success stories. Take Rwanda, for instance, where the National Bank achieved the Gold Gender Seal, catalyzing a remarkable increase in women's formal financial access from 63% in 2016 to an empowering 77% in 2022. Meanwhile, the Directorate for Public and Private Partnerships in the Dominican Republic, achieved the Bronze Seal in 2023, successfully integrated gender equality targets into public-private partnership contracts. The question remains : What ambitions does Uzbekistan hold in comparison to these global strides towards gender equality?