Stand Up

Thursday, February 27, 2020
Karyahan in her fruit orchard in Lebap, Turkmenistan

A Woman Farmer Demands Equal Land Rights in Turkmenistan 

Karyahan is a dedicated farmer with seven children. She and her family live in Lebap, situated in the northeast region of Turkmenistan. Karyahan was looking for a way to use her passion for farming to meet the financial needs of her family.  Karyahan dreamed of having her own orchard: “I wanted to do something meaningful and do it well. I was always good with tending fruit trees. So, I decided to lease my own land and plant a fruit orchard.”

When Karyahan applied for a standard ten year lease, she found out she would have to reapply every year to stay on her land. Karyahan, like hundreds of other women farmers in Lebap, was forced to request an extension of her lease every year because the authorities in her village wanted to discourage women from applying for leases. Her male counterparts enjoyed ten year leases and could invest time and effort in improving their land. Karyahan, however, spent her time collecting documents and filing paperwork.

After four years of stress and frustration, Karyahan considered giving up her orchard altogether.  She had been participating in courses provided by USAID’s Governance Support Program and UNDP’s Support to Climate Resilient Livelihoods Program to help farmers with soil management and proper use of organic fertilizers. Before she gave up her dream entirely, Karyahan decided to turn to USAID for advice on the issue of her lease.

USAID’s Governance Support Program helped Karyahan prepare the required documents to apply for a ten-year lease and assisted her in preparing her legal argument. USAID advocated with the village council to approve her request and worked with the farmers in her community, community leaders, and the village council to talk through the issue of gender inequality. The village council participated in training on how to ensure women in Lebap are treated fairly and how to capture women’s voices in planning and decision-making. After learning about the importance of gender equality, the council approved Karyahan’s ten-year lease.

Now, Karyahan can take pleasure in investing in her fruit trees, like her male counterparts. She expects a good harvest to sell in the local market that will greatly contribute to her family income. In addition to her orchard, she is now confidently branching out into fish production and worm composting.

As a result of Karyahan standing up for her rights and USAID’s assistance, 100 women farmers affected by land lease discrimination in Lebap have been empowered to advocate for equal treatment. 

Last updated: May 06, 2020

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