Women in Turkmenistan

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Women in Turkmenistan
Turkmen woman.jpg
Turkmen woman, 2006
Gender Inequality Index
Value NR
Rank NR
Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 67 (2010)
Women in parliament 16.8% (2012)
Females over 25 with secondary education NA
Women in labour force 46.4% (2011)
Global Gender Gap Index
Value NR
Rank NR out of 136

The role of women in Turkmenistan has never conformed to Western stereotypes about Muslim women.[1] Although a division of labor exists and women usually are not visible actors in political affairs outside the home, Turkmen women have never worn a veil similar to that of the women of some of its neighboring countries.[1] As Turkmenistan is a tribal nation, customs regarding women can vary within the country: for example, women in the eastern part of the country are permitted to drink some alcohol whereas women who live in the central portion of the country, particularly those of the Tekke tribe, are not permitted to imbibe alcohol. Most women possess a host of highly specialized skills and crafts, especially those connected with the household and its maintenance.[1] During the Soviet period, women assumed responsibility for the observance of some Muslim rites to protect their husbands' careers.[1] Many women entered the work force out of economic necessity, a factor that disrupted some traditional family practices and increased the incidence of divorce.[1] At the same time, educated urban women entered professional services and careers.[1]

Cultural significance of women in Turkmenistan[edit]

Cooking is the main field of work for women in an independent area. Some households have a small room for making food and keeping utensils. Neighbors or relatives sometimes arrive unasked to assist in housework, or they may bring their own household tasks to work on together and socialize. Food preparation is done in the open air. Tasks, such as smoking meat and popping corn, are done by men and often turn into a social opportunity.[2]

Women are expected to maintain a distance in regards to gender. Men and women might sit and eat in one place, but they are segregated during social occasions. Some women carry on the practice of wearing a yaşmak,head scarf, in the initial year after they are wed. The wife clenches the corner of her scarf in her teeth to show a significant barrier toward the male guests and to show respect to her parents-in-law. The scarf also stops her from communicating. The wife may stop covering her head with a yaşmak after a year of her wedding, after the birth of her first born,or by a decision within the family.[3]

Female population of Turkmenistan[edit]

The total population of Turkmenistan constitutes the figure of 5,171,943 (July 2014 est.), with a total sex ratio among the total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2014 est.).[4]

The bright attire of women[edit]

Turkmens are an attention-grabbing people, and this is especially true of the women. Women are garbed in ankle-length garments of silk or velvet, which are commonly a mix of bright oranges, purples, yellows, blues, and greens. The necklines are embellished with elaborate gold-thread needlework that drops down, decorating the neckline right to the navel.[5] Richly decorated head wear, jewelry and embroidery accents are a part of their routine.[6]

Home-spun silk by Turkmen women[edit]

Even in the present, ketene, a homespun silk, manufacturing persists largely as a cottage skill. These works, like other handmade artistries, are enormously painstaking and consume a lot of hard work.

The women of Turkmenistan are highly talented and hardworking, thus becoming the makers of ketene. It helps to make the fine-looking clothes for the Turkmen women at distinctive events. The embroidery on the garments reveal various patterns that are exclusively known as a family hallmark, distinguishing the family of its maker.[6]

Skilled Turkmen women use antique weaving looms known as tara, which were adopted in the ancient times. These succeed in high eminence, with a startling amount of precision on embellished fabrics.[7]

The locals have been weaving beautiful patterns for hundreds of years. The garments prepared from keteni have been worn by both men and women. Since men's style was restricted mostly to shirts, ladies gathered a whole apparel of costumes and head scarves. The attractive costumes prepared from keteni still persist as a customary bridal dress (Central Asia Cultures).[6]

The status of women in Turkmenistan[edit]

The element that has transformed the role of women from homemaker to basic breadwinner of the family is a revolution that Turkmen civilization has gone through. This was the aftermath of a plan followed by the government, which caused a change in nationwide values and social principles.[8] After splitting from the Soviet Union, several initiatives, organizations and establishments became insolvent in Turkmenistan which caused a severe upsurge in joblessness.[9]

Men, being the main providers of the family, imported items of use and food to sell in the local market. However, this was discouraged by the border patrol agents and police officers. This is when the women became the earners. However, in the beginning of the 90s, thanks to the social approach, the officers did not confront, examine or offend women. Subsequently, women became involved in the most accepted kind of private enterprise – trading in products from overseas.[10]

Serious gender imbalance occurred[edit]

Since men were left with no opportunity to find employment in their own country, many men left the country in the hunt of work. They mainly traveled to Turkey, Russia, and United Arab Emirates. This also led the nation toward drug addiction, which flourished in the 90s, and caused a substantial reduction in the male population of the country able to provide for their families. These circumstances caused a severe gender disparity, which created a challenge for women to have a family. Some settled to live as the second or third spouses of prosperous men or to bear children outside of marriage.[10]

Measures to enhance gender empowerment[edit]

The Gender Empowerment Measure reveals the amount to which Turkmen women play an energetic role in the financial and governmental domain. It emphasizes women’s financial participation and managerial ability, determining the gender inequalities in the political commercial scopes of activity.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Social structure". Turkmenistan: A country study. Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress of the USA (March 1996).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ Genté, Régis. “Second-class citizens.” 17 June 2013. Chronicles of Turkmenistan. Web. 30 October 2015.
  3. ^ Countries and their Cultures. “TÜrkmenistan.” 2015. Countries and their Cultures. Web. 30 October 2015.
  4. ^ Index Mundi. “Turkmenistan Demographics Profile 2014.” 30 June 2015. Index Mundi. Web. 30 October 2015.
  5. ^ Walker, Shaun. “Turkmenistan: Stranger in a very strange land.” 23 October 2011. Independent.co.uk. Web. 30 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Central Asia Cultures. “Enjoy Fascinating Cultures of the Silk Road.” 2014. Central Asia Cultures. Web. 30 October 2015.
  7. ^ Traveler.uz. “Turkmen Silk.” 2008. Traveler.uz. Web. 30 October 2015.
  8. ^ Curtis, Glenn E. “Social Structure.” 1996. Countrystudies.us. Web. 30 October 2015.
  9. ^ Encyclopedia.com. “Turkmenistan.” 2007. Encyclopedia.com. Web. 30 October 2015.
  10. ^ a b Chronicles of Turkmenistan. “Almanac “Women in Turkmenistan”.” 28 June 2015. Chronicles of Turkmenistan. Web. 30 October 2015.
  11. ^ Economic Commission For Europe. “Turkmenistan: Development Of Gender Statistics In Turkmenistan.” Joint ECE/UNDP Workshop on Gender Statistics for Policy Monitoring and Benchmarking. 2000.

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