My Connection to the Research

Posted: July 24, 2012 in Anastasia Kocher

As a Political Science major with an emphasis in International Politics, my primary focus rests with the countries of Central Asia. For the first 22 years of my life, I lived in Russia where I came to encounter people of many different nationalities, including Central Asians, who were compelled to assimilate to a Russian-centric society under Soviet rule. My former home-city of Omsk is near Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which allowed me to travel to those places and admire their cultures. I also went to school with children of Kazakh, Tajik, Uzbek, and Kirgiz families; and many of my neighbors and my friends were Central Asians. Their generosity, enduring spirit, and cultural uniqueness won my heart.

My project seeks to understand the changes that have taken place since the political independence of the Central Asian region in the early 1990’s, including national leaders’ encouragement of traditional roles for women and the resulting gender gaps in almost all spheres of life. I understand that I cannot solve the world’s problems, but I feel morally obligated to relieve the suffering of women wherever it exists.   I feel true compassion and personal responsibility to those who do not have a voice.  I believe that all women have certain inalienable rights that cannot be legitimately withheld under the façade of religious or cultural “laws” or “traditions.” It has long been recognized that ensuring women’s human rights is essential to a society’s overall growth and development. The United States is founded on democratic principles. However, I have witnessed that the United States often chooses to assist particular countries based on its national security interests rather than concern for the individual rights and liberties of people living in those countries. In my opinion, the lack of adequate American support and tangible actions on behalf of women in Central Asia constitute a human rights violation.

Living in a democracy for the last 10 years has made me appreciate liberties that I did not enjoy in my homeland. It also afforded me the capacity to care about others, and the strength to make a difference. I would like to dedicate the rest of my life to seeking universal equality and to fight women oppression, starting with an improvement of conditions for women in Central Asia.

In the words of one of the greatest cellists of all-time, Pablo Casals:Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated, but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.” My study on the status of women in contemporary Central Asia is motivated by this inspiring perspective.

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