Gender Roles in Economics

The division of labor between men and women in making a living, household and domestic work, and occupational specialization is fairly well defined. Despite 70 years of living under Soviet rule, Kyrgyz women are still expected to maintain the household and domestic work, while at the same time having a job outside the home. Men are less likely to perform domestic duties. During the Soviet period, women participated in nearly all labor arenas, except heavy industrial work. Today both men and women are involved in informal trade and entrepreneurial activities, in part due to the economic problems in the region. Women have dominated the "shuttle trade" markets, in which they travel to nearby countries and buy up goods and sell them in Kyrgyzstan at local markets. This is primarily because women seem to be less harassed then men at customs or border stops. Thus, women have gained a significant niche in the market. More and more, men who are from rural villages are moving to the urban centers to find work. This has had a major impact on families, leaving many women to be single parents raising many children, as well as maintaining gardens for household food reserves. Although women are legally able to inherit land, customary law sometimes prohibits them from actually gaining the property.

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