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Published:April 24th, 2006 04:41 EST
Kazakhstani Woman Makes A Difference

Kazakhstani Woman Makes A Difference

By Stephanie Lagopoulos

Although Kazakhstani women are often highly educated, their participation in political decision-making has always been extremely limited.  That is, until Aisulu Duisbayeva got involved.  Duisbayeva, a native of Dostyk a village located in southeastern Kazakhstan, became involved in community affairs when she campaigned to improve her village`s first aid station.

Dostyk`s health station was unable to provide basic services for its 2,500 patients, so in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Diusbayeva began to supply standard medical equipment, install a new heating system and restore the building.

Duisbayeva and other Kazakhstanis joined together and attended training sessions funded by USAID, which taught them how to improve their communities by creating and implementing local projects.  In Kazakhistan alone, USAID has lead 70 community-driven projects, providing over 4,300 jobs and improving the overall health, sanitation, and education needs of Kazakhistan.

Traditionally women and youth have been left out of the decision-making process in Kazakhistan; however, USAID makes a special effort to encourage women like Duisbayeva to fulfill their dreams of making a difference in a suffering community.

"It was a dream of my whole professional life to have a large [first aid service] building where the patients feel comfortable," said Duisbayeva.  However, I had no idea how to start it until I saw how [USAID] community mobilization officers do it."

Not only do the Kazakhstan citizens help in the decision-making process, they also get involved every step of the way, from voicing their needs to physically looking for the resources necessary to carry out a project.  The entire process encourages teamwork, while at the same time teaching communities how to deal with possible dissension.

Women like Aisulu Duisbayeva, in collaboration with local governments and entire communities will allow the legacy of USAID to continue in the projects built and the attitudes and abilities of the people of Kazakhistan.

For more information go to:

Source: Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State.