Meet Zamira DjabarovaMay 05, 2010
Program Specialist at the United Nations Development Fund for Women
Expanding economic rights and opportunities for women in the labor market in Tajikistan, the National Association of Business Women in Tajikistan (NABWT) provides women with access to resources, education, and marketing skills to foster growth.
At age 16 Zamira Djabarova, a 2004-05 AAUW International Fellow, took an intern position at NABWT, where she worked with the Junior Achievements of Tajikistan project. Three months later she was conducting interviews with local businesswomen and government officials as a research assistant. The goal of the research project was to uncover structural and legislative barriers that hurt women small-business owners in the country.
By being in the field and interacting directly with the community, Zamira had an up-close-and-personal view of the organization’s impact. She helped analyze data collected from the extensive research project, which informed a set of 12 recommendations for country-wide legislation changes. According to Zamira, nine of the 12 recommendations were passed to different degrees by the Tajikistan parliament.
Working with the NABWT to delve into the stories of women business owners in Tajikistan helped to solidify a lesson Zamira learned growing up as the youngest girl in a family of three daughters and no sons: Gender matters. Through the AAUW fellowship Zamira was able to express her interest in gender equity in a professional way. She completed her master’s degree in international affairs at the New School in New York. “The AAUW fellowship made my graduate education possible. … It opened more doors for career opportunities,” said Zamira.
These days Zamira has taken the lessons she learned from the field to positions in transnational organizations such as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), through which she hopes to promote structural and societal change. Currently Zamira lives in New York and provides support and guidance from afar as a program specialist for UNIFEM for programs in Central and Eastern Europe and in the Commonwealth of Independent States, 12 countries including Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and Tajikistan.
Three to four times a year Zamira returns to “the field,” her hometown in Tajikistan, where she is directly confronted by the major issues still facing women. Zamira feels that although the numbers might paint the picture of better lives for women in Tajikistan, qualitative analyses reveal a different reality. In many cases, explained Zamira, the necessary structural improvements that facilitate large-scale change aren’t being implemented in the country.
Zamira’s hope is to soon find a way to make more of a tangible impact. “I would like to work in/from a place which is closer to the issues, that provides better connections with constituencies to help me better understand the challenges.”