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Tajikistan: Empowering Girls Through Sport

Trainer wants girls in care to realise they don’t have to “stay at home and do the washing”.
An army boxer is working with a children’s home in Tajikistan to encourage girls to take up martial arts and other types of sports traditionally viewed as unsuitable for women.

Lieutenant Nezhdana Mironova started the scheme because she herself grew up in state care and wanted to broaden the horizons of girls who might otherwise feel their options were limited.

Mironova started boxing at eight, as she says because “you needed to try to defend yourself somehow”. After school, she went to sports college, joined the military and now works as a trainer for the army boxing team.

A chance meeting with the head of the Tae Kwondo centre in the capital Dushanbe linked her up with the organisation’s programme for women in sport. Ten years ago, she came up with the idea of a sports club for the care home and school she had attended in the western town of Shahrinau. Since then, she has run training twice a week there with a focus on football and martial arts for girls.

She says her aim was to “create parity between the girls and the boys, and give the girls a sense that they weren’t…  born to stay at home and do the washing. They weren’t born for that. They might have some talent and they should be able to use it in their future lives.”

Odiljon Ashurov is IWPR’s radio editor in Tajikistan.



This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union, and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.

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