Teenage Girls' Enrollment Down in Tajikistan
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 12:11 PM

According to the Tajik ministry of education, the number of girls who are enrolled in school has dropped significantly over the past decade.  Analysts cite a variety of reasons, including decreased economic opportunity and a shift toward traditional values placed on women.   

While girls were required to attend school during Soviet rule, the civil and economic unrest that followed independence has been marked by a decrease in women in education and an increase in younger marriages.  Women are encouraged to marry as early as possible, and higher education is seen as a barrier to marriage by many families.  Still, when women are divorced, their dual status as divorced and uneducated leave them  with very few economic options.

While some suggest that conservative Islamic influence is discouraging women's education, other Muslim leaders say this is a result of uneducated clerics who do not fully understand Islam, and dismiss suggestions that Islam reinforces the idea that women should be only servants to their husbands.  Beyond the religious argument, many say that education in this poverty stricken country is simply too expensive and families are unable to support the costs associated with sending their girls to the city for higher education.  Still, families are more likely to send their boys to school. 

Some rural schools are trying to encourage girls' enrollment by informing parents that girls will be taught sewing in addition to other curricula.  Decreased girls' enrollment is especially troubling for the future.  One gender expert warns that within the next thirty years there will be no women's representation in areas like law, teaching and engineering, where men already dominate.   

Compiled from: "Tajikistan: Teenage Girls Dropping Out of School," by Anora Sarkorova and Aslibegim Manzarshoeva, Institute for War and Peace Reporting. 2 February 2007.