Friday, 05 November 2021 14:54

Partnership with UNFPA

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WIUT and CPRO sign a Partnership Agreement with UNFPA

On 4th November 2021, United Nations Population Fund in Uzbekistan (UNFPA) signed a Partnership Agreement with Westminster International University in Tashkent (WIUT) and the Center for Policy Research and Outreach (CPRO) to mark the official launch of a research study on perceptions, prevalence and impact of inequality, harassment and discrimination in the workplace in Uzbekistan.

This research study is the first of its kind in Uzbekistan, It brings together international academic expertise to explore the extent to which corporate policies and mechanisms promote gender equality in working environments, prevent unfair treatment and violence based on gender, and support women with combining work and family responsibilities. The partnership is pioneering in its effort to engage the private sector and builds on similar initiatives led by UNFPA in Turkey and Ukraine.

The signing was attended by Mr Yu Yu, UNFPA Representative in Uzbekistan, Mr Bakhrom Mirkasimov, Rector, WIUT and Mr Peter Malvicini, Director of CPRO, among others.

Mr Yu noted: ''The study leads the way in the implementation of the UN Global Compact – a strategy to drive business awareness and action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is held at the country level, with a focus on evidence-based actions to be taken by the private sector and institutions to achieve zero gender based violence”.

Mr Mirkasimov highlighted: “This is unique research for Uzbekistan. I’m proud WIUT has an opportunity to support it with the best-in-class research resources and facilities. Partnership with private companies promotes gender equality and supports women’s empowerment in the workplace. And it strengthens the private sector’s awareness about SDGs. We thank UNFPA for the support to undertake this research. It is a first step for WIUT to explore and move this initiative forward."

Existing evidence suggests gender stereotypes, attitudes towards women’s employment and gender pay gap limit women’s employment opportunities and career progression in Uzbekistan. The COVID-19 pandemic has added a new layer of challenges for the health, physical safety, and economic security of women across the country. In recent years, the country has launched notable reforms to eliminate violence against women, including the passing of the Law on the Protection of Women from Violence and Harassment in 2019, and the adoption of the National Gender Strategy in 2021. However, cooperation across different sectors is necessary to support these efforts, including engaging the private sector. Studies demonstrate that women’s empowerment and greater equality contribute towards economic growth and social development.

There is currently a lack of research data that would accurately depict women’s experiences and perceptions of workplace inequality in Uzbekistan. , which this study aims to fill. It also aims to identify existing policies and best practices that support working families, such as flexible or remote working, maternity/paternity leave, provision of childcare facilities and other measures.

The study will be carried out by means of a quantitative survey among employees and qualitative in-depth interviews with HR managers. Outputs will include a report with the survey findings, which will also include best practices of businesses in Uzbekistan, and a guidance document with recommendations for companies on how to adjust their corporate policies to promote gender equality and eliminate violence and harassment in the workplace.

The long-term goal of the present initiative is to strengthen the ground for collaboration with the private sector in Uzbekistan and creating lasting change by mainstreaming corporate policies which would support meaningful engagement of women in the labor markets.

WIUT’s CPRO builds on the University’s 17 years of research experience and is committed to using interdisciplinary approaches to policy research and practice. UNFPA has been working in Uzbekistan since 1993 and is currently implementing its fifth Country Programme (2020-2025) together with national partners.