May 27, 2022, Nukus, Karakalpakstan – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched IT Women – Karakalpakstan – a comprehensive information communication technologies (ICT) training program for rural women and girls in the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The program provides training in essential ICT skills that will empower women to take advantage of a broad range of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Rural women in Uzbekistan often have no access to digital technologies such as wi-fi or mobile internet connections, which limits their ability to pursue formal jobs or careers in business. USAID’s Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA), completed in January 2022, also identified that social norms around women’s interest in and use of technology impairs their access, adoption, and educational and job opportunities.
According to UNICEF, 68.1 percent of young women and girls in Uzbekistan between the ages of 14 and 30 have never used the Internet, nearly double the rate of men of the same age (34.3 percent). Closing this gap is a shared priority of the governments of Uzbekistan and the United States.
“This program will help address the gender gap in digitalization in Uzbekistan with a particular focus on rural women,” noted USAID Mission Director in Uzbekistan Mikaela Meredith. “By developing digital and entrepreneurship skills, rural women will be able to participate in e-commerce, sell products through global and local platforms, use social media to promote their businesses, and access digital microwork opportunities. Investing in women’s economic empowerment is key to achieving gender equality, poverty reduction and ensuring inclusive and sustainable economic growth,” she added.
IT Women – Karakalpakstan is a pilot program that will provide customized training on social media marketing and graphic design, employment and internships in the ICT sector for girls and women, and mentorship support throughout the program. Sixty women and female youth will receive training administered by the IT Academy in Nukus, with the support of IT Park. This program is part of a $1 million USAID initiative supporting rural women in Uzbekistan impacted by climate change by equipping them with business skills, vocational training, microfinance, mentorship, and employment programs.
This initiative is implemented by the USAID Agribusiness Development activity, a five-year activity implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan, that supports private sector-led growth in Uzbekistan’s agriculture sector by introducing new value-added technologies and management practices across the entire value chain for targeted agricultural commodities. These efforts are focused on increasing value-added production within Uzbekistan, engaging women and youth, linking educational institutions with private sector demand, and promoting favorable policies for agriculture.
USAID partners with the Government of Uzbekistan to diversify the country’s economy and increase regional trade, address serious health threats – including COVID-19 – and build the government’s capacity to respond to the population’s needs. For more information, please visit: https://www.usaid.gov/uzbekistan, and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/USAIDUzbekistan/