Virtual Roundtable: Gender Equality and LGBTQI+ Issues in Central Asia

Research event Recording
25 September 2020 — 1:00PM TO 2:30PM

Voices for gender equality have grown in prominence across Central Asia over recent years, but so has the vocalization of conservative opposition. Since the start of Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s presidency in 2016, Uzbekistan has initiated reforms such as new laws to promote equal rights and opportunities and to protect women from violence. Similarly, tougher rape laws were recently introduced in Kazakhstan.

However, activism across the region still faces opposition. Earlier this year, Women’s Day demonstrations were suppressed by police in both Bishkek and Almaty. In Kyrgyzstan, artistic expressions of gender issues, such as the Feminnale and Zere Asylbek’s music videos, have provoked backlash from conservative parts of society, but have also initiated important conversations. LGBTQI+ discrimination remains a pressing issue across Central Asia. And, as elsewhere, the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent lockdowns have exacerbated existing problems, with increases in cases of domestic violence across the region.

This event explores recent developments in women’s and LGBTQI+ rights in Central Asia. Are the new laws effective? What conversations are taking place across the region? What are the ongoing challenges and the future of gender activism in Central Asia?

This event will be held on the record.

This event will be held in English with simultaneous translation into Russian.


Dina Smailova, Activist; Leader, Speak Out (NeMolchi) Movement, Kazakhstan
Mohira Suyarkulova, Associate Professor, American University of Central Asia
Colleen Wood, Writer, The Diplomat; PhD Candidate, Columbia University
Chair: Annette Bohr, Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House

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