Zebo Furqatzoda was selected as an Asian Girls Ambassador and Asian Girls Community Development Award winner for her efforts in fighting against gender inequalities faced by girls her age. Zebo aims to grow her network in Asian countries so that she can more deeply understand the problems faced by girls in this region and help them through social media.
In Tajikistan, many girls experience inequality of opportunity. In Tajik culture, traditional thinking dictates that studying abroad can have a negative influence on girls. Zebo experienced this first-hand, as she found her opportunities to study abroad extremely limited. According to UNICEF, although compulsory education is guaranteed for all children, only 88% of girls in Tajikistan even complete their basic education (primary and lower-secondary). In the United Nations Education Index, Tajikistan ranks 133 out of 187 countries and one of the lowest of all the post-Soviet republics.
Despite this, Zebo has worked hard to create change in her community. She organized a regional debate club to improve the debating skills of students. She also arranged five lectures on the Model United Nations and then led students in a simulated Model United Nations session. She has even organized a leadership workshop for the youth of her city. Thanks to her perseverance, she was voted the top delegate at the International Central Asia Model UN Conference in Kazakhstan out of 450 delegates.
As an Asian Girls Ambassador, Zebo plans to raise awareness of gender discrimination in post-Soviet Central Asia. She has begun a project called “Creative Writing,” which aims to support girls and women in post-Soviet Central Asia to speak their minds through creative writing. Zebo will upload participants’ stories on the website.
After uploading stories on social media, she will publish selected stories, giving the authors a chance for their voices to be heard.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Zebo sees this award as recognition of the importance of raising awareness of gender discrimination in post-Soviet Central Asia. No matter how difficult the circumstances are, she believes she can encourage girls and women like her to fight for their rights!