KADAM (Step by Step) Women Support Program

We believe our support and care will help the people live up to their dream – a life free of poverty and violence!

Umut and her mother live in Chon Kemin Valley. Their major income is generated through potato production. Early spring, they plant potato and harvest it in the fall. The entire year they live and work to get a small income in the fall to come. Then, they use the money to survive over the significant period of time. Summer is considered a dead season for them, during which they pick medicinal herbs and flowers in the mountains in the quest for additional income. These efforts bring small income, which they use to subsist in the summer period. In the last two years, Umut and her mother have been growing medicinal herbs, such as chamomile and marigold. This activity helped them to meet their day-to-day needs, buy food and school items for the kids. However, they do not have the necessary devices used to pick and dry the herbs. Despite this, Umut and her mother are not discouraged and do not lose heart. Their dream is to have a dryer.

Poverty is one of the most crucial and pressing issues in Kyrgyzstan. According to household surveys conducted in Kyrgyzstan, 40,8% of the population live in poverty, where 9,4% are very poor rural residents. 53% of the households headed by women are categorized as poor, where 15% are below the poverty line.

The majority of the population lives in rural areas (65%). The women of Kyrgyzstan comprise 50,6% of the total population. Poverty impact is different on women and men, their social standing, needs, opportunities and health. The women in Kyrgyzstan have limited opportunities compared to men due to customs and traditions, which still significantly influence our society. This is being further jeopardized by religious convictions, according to which a woman is to stay at home and take care of the children and the household. These traditional roles impact women’s choices in education, jobs and social accommodation.

The women from rural areas are more susceptible to unemployment than men and, oftentimes, they are paid less compared to men. They spend 3.5 times as much on the work about the house and childcare and do not contribute cash into the family income, which affects their access to many resources. Frequently, poor women do not have access to such important resources as land and inheritance. They do not get appreciation and credits for the job done. They merely participate in decision making, both at home and in the community. Being busy about the house, the women contribute to such issue as increase in the number of children growing up in the streets. The other side of the women’s poverty and limited opportunities available for them to make earnings is accounted for internal migration, when women and young girls are forced to live their homes and work in the cities or other regions of the country, thus increasing the risk of being drawn into prostitution.

The women are more adapted to the changing environment, including the changes in their line of activity: they can easily join small cooperative units and are more mobile in terms of additional resources stimulation for development of their operations (sales business, producing felt goods). Providing microcredits has become a very popular and successful strategy for poverty eradication. At present, the women are actively involved in the operations of small loans systems. Day by day, more and more women are finding opportunities for doing business and staying active in order to improve their livelihood. They establish and join cooperative unit, small enterprises and microcredit groups. However, there is also a large number of women, who work independently and are not part of the cooperative units. The women make use natural resources they have free access to, such as medicinal herbs, berries, fruits;

Erkaim lives in Chong Alay – one of the remotest areas in our country, with hardly any access to the basic infrastructure. Most of the year is made of severe weather conditions, late springs and early winters make the vegetation period very short, thus making it impossible for the local population to engage in crop production as their crops are subjected to frosts in the fall. Therefore, their major income is generated through animal husbandry, in which the women of Chong Alay valley are engaged. Round the year, the women live high up in the mountains grazing the animals and providing for their families. Erkaim is their only link to the villages and markets, where their goods – meat, milk and wool – can be sold. She visits the women in the mountains and helps them sell their produce, brings medicines, food, clothing and many other necessary items. The women of Chong Alay make beautiful items of felt, which they process manually. Wool processing takes a lot of time and efforts, however, despite the toll it takes, it generates additional income for them. The women, with the help of Erkaim, exchange their felt items for food, which improves their livelihood. Hackles and spinning machinery could make the women’s lives much easier and change their financial standing for the better.

they process the goods and improve their livelihood by selling the herbs, herbal potions, jams and ointments made of medicinal herbs, berries and fruits. They also improve their nutrition by consuming the latter. All of these have impact on the rational utilization of the natural resources as well as improvement of the livelihoods of the women and local communities.

Program Goal:

The RDF works in close contact with the local communities and pays attention to the women’s issues. The objective of the activity is to reduce poverty among women in the remote regions by means of drawing attention of the organizations and individuals to these groups.

Program Objectives:

Providing any form of assistance and support to poor women (technical means, animals, seeds, etc.);

– Ensuring positive impact on the environmental development and rational use of secondary natural resources.

The berries and herbs help many women of Talas oblast improve their livelihood. Many women do not have a stable income as the men engaged in crop production do. Recently, the women in Talas oblast became engaged in medicinal herbs and berries collection. The women learned the right ways of picking and drying small amounts of the herbs and berries, which they use to improve health and treat for diseases, serves as additional vitamins and improve nutrition of poor families. Besides, the berries and fruits serve as additional income for the women, who sell dry hawthorn, barberries, and sea-buckthorn. However, there is a strong competition and lack of adequate marketing expertise. The women do not have resources to package their produce adequately, which is a very important factor in the marketing of any produce.

We work with the communities residing in various remote areas of our country. We know many stories of various women, who do not need much to improve their livelihoods; some involvement in their lives brings not only support, but also trust and hope for the better changes in their lives! We are aware of the many people willing and capable of helping the poor, the women and children, in particular. Many women, the women’s groups already possess information and knowledge of doing this or other types of businesses, have environmentally friendly production skills, have undergone mobilizations and various training courses. All they need is a small push to start up their businesses. If you are interested in picking up on our activity and are willing to provide any form of assistance and support to the women and children living below the poverty line, you can contact RDF. We provide all information on the communities and households we work with and advise on how you can best help them. We can link you with the households or the women who need your assistance and support.

To learn more about Program please contact RDF on email: general@rdf.in.kg.



Kyrgyz Republic, Bishkek c., Geological lane 11, office №1