“Kormilitsa”. Economic freedom. Woman.

Entry deadline is 20th of October 2019

Bishkek Feminist Initiatives invites international submissions of contemporary art for a curated group exhibition to be held at the Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, from 27 November to 15 December 2019. The exhibition is dedicated to 17 female migrants killed in Moscow warehouse fire three year ago. The exhibition will be open to the public symbolically for 17 days.

The Feminnale of Contemporary Art is the Biennale of Feminism (yes, almost like the triumph of feminism). It gathers feminist artists, whose works expose social wounds that prevent societies from reaching the reality, in which equality prevails over violence. The 2019 Feminnale explores the topics of women’s economic freedom. The word Kormilitsa means both a female breadwinner and a provider in Russian. Thus, who is really that kormilitsa? A woman with milk in the ducts of her breasts? A woman who is responsible for cooking for family members (according to the assumptions of the patriarchal society)? A woman who leaves for labor migration to provide financially for a family? How much of economic freedom does this woman have?

The Feminnale welcomes audio-visual works of any medium by artists of any gender identity and from any country. All works that create an environment, affecting all channels of perception – smell, hearing, tactility and vision – are welcome. The Feminnale will be held every two years in an established and/or an alternative, uninhabited space, again in any country. In addition to the exhibition of artworks, it will include several workshops and interventions aimed at increasing participation of communities in the processes of empowering and helping advance the status of women.
Submissions of applications will be accepted until 20 October, 2019. The first Feminnale will be held in Bishkek. Travel and accommodation costs for participating artists are not covered, yet Feminnale is disposed to help provide funding in exceptional cases. Fill out a short application form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZR29AriYp_JvpizR46lPlsjnlPZyueuDQXJcgjTqvCc

The Feminnale is to be curated by Altyn Kapalova and Janna Araeva: feminnale2019@gmail.com

How Kyrgyz authorities almost banned a women’s rally on International Women’s Day

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek walked back a hastily-imposed ban on a rally on International Women’s Day which went ahead uninterrupted despite provocations from pro-patriarchy vigilantes.

Bishkek officials had briefly on March 6 imposed a ban on a rally that has been organised by the Bishkek Feminists Initiative (BFI) annually on March 8 since 2016 to honour International Women’s Day — a public holiday in most ex-Soviet countries.

The capital’s municipality initially cited “personal safety of citizens” as a reason for the ban and did not elaborate further.

But then officials surprisingly reversed the decision just a few hours later following coverage by local media and vigorous criticism on social networks like Facebook.

In the end, the rally saw around 150 people march in the city centre and call for an end to violence against women while urging equal rights between genders.

Participants also chanted slogans such as “end corruption”, “safety and diversity”, “clean city”, “schools without sexism”, “safe space for women”.

A rally for International Women’s Day in Bishkek. Photo by Aisha Jabbarova. Largest banner reads: “I am proud of being transgender.”

The rally was attended by people from different walks of life and highlighted the diversity of society in Bishkek that nationalist groups — often operating with significant political support — have attempted to pin back in recent years.

Nazik Abylgazieva, an activist from the local Labrys LGBT organization said it was “important to attend the rally despite the pressure and attempts to ban it.”

“I joined the rally to demonstrate that I will not be silent, even though there are attempts to exclude me from all societal processes as a member of LGBT community,” Abylgazieva said.

A rally for International Women’s Day in Bishkek. Photo by Aisha Jabbarova. One banner reads: “Every fourth woman is a victim of violence. What more is needed?”

A contested holiday

International Women’s Day remains one of the most important dates in the calendar in countries such as Kyrgyzstan, which was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union before independence in 1991.

But many feminists complain that the day has been reduced to a flower-giving ceremony, reinforcing patriarchal views of women as homemakers and shedding the emancipatory origins of the date.View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter


I want you to remember where the 8th of March came from. It is a day for women and girls rights, human rights. It is not just a day when we pay more attention to women, it’s a day, when all of us should stand for equal rights. #InternationalWomensDay #humanrights161:47 PM – Mar 8, 2019See Shamil’s other TweetsTwitter Ads info and privacy

Reflecting this trend, Kyrgyzstan’s neighbour to the south, Tajikistan, rebranded the day as Mother’s Day in 2009. In the country’s vast neighbour to the north, Kazakhstan, women have been effectively banned from holding March 8 rallies for several years now.

Long-reigning Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev regularly rings in the holiday with a barrage of sexist jokes.

A rally for International Women’s Day in Bishkek. Photo by Aisha Jabbarova.

Thus the BFI’s annual March 8 rally, taking place in the least authoritarian of the five Central Asian “Stans”, has political overtones.

This year, according to Bektour Iskender, the founder of the Kloop media outlet, who attended the rally, the demonstration was for “human rights, and the rights of all those discriminated against.”

Abylgaziyeva of Labrys echoed those sentiments in her interview with Global Voices:

Among my acquaintances are sex workers, HIV positive women, women who have history of drug abuse, doctors, teachers, actresses, musicians, artists, women of all backgrounds. However, we are all united by one thing – by the fact that we are being beaten, raped, and our rights are being limited. By attending the rally I am challenging myself as well as the system.

Guliaim Aiylchy, BFI’s chairperson, told Global Voices that holding the rally was important in and of itself:

If we don’t rally today, five years later, the right to (rally) will be taken away from us.

Promised provocations went undelivered

While Kyrgyzstan remains the most democratic country in its immediate region it is one full of worrying trends in terms of discrimination and violence against traditionally marginalised groups like the LGBT community.

Women’s rights are also a battleground in a country where kidnaps for marriage and violence against women are prevalent and often go punished.

In recent years, socially conservative positions have been reinforced with tearful consequences thanks to groups like Kyrk Choro, a patriot movement that had pledged to break up this year’s March 8 rally on the eve of holiday.

Kyrk Choro shot to notoriety in 2014 thanks to video-taped raids on nightclubs and karaoke bars where the group shamed local sex workers for fraternising with non-Kyrgyz clients.

Members said they had notified the municipality of their intention to break up the rally, a fact that may have moved authorities to ban the event to begin with.

A rally for International Women’s Day in Bishkek. Photo by Aisha Jabbarova. One of the banners reads: “The best present you can give me is my rights.”

On the day itself, individual members of the group showed up in small numbers — seemingly only to give flowers to participants. The event was well policed.

But the presence of so-called ‘patriot’ undercurrents in society has left many already vulnerable groups feeling more targeted than ever.

A transgender woman named Lola told Global Voices on the eve of the rally that attending the event was important “to be visible, to be heard”, but that she was not sure whether she would join the gathering.

I don’t know whether it is safe for me or not. It is difficult for us [transgender people] to go out. We don’t trust anyone any more. We are attacked frequently. Often times there is a risk for us. Some people don’t consider me a human being.

Aisha Jabbarova https://globalvoices.org/2019/03/08/how-kyrgyz-authorities-almost-banned-a-womens-rally-on-international-womens-day/

8 March 2019

For the elimination of all forms of violence against girls and women and access to justice!

Gender-based violence, discrimination against women and girls and misogyny are manifested daily, ranging from street harassment, sexist jokes to rape and murder. Often the most unsafe place for women is their home.

Most crimes against women go unpunished. Research into court practices shows that law enforcement agencies structurally violate the rights of female violence survivors, starting with how a statement is received and ending with judicial decisions. The absence of a widely accessible network of crisis centers and state supported shelters aggravates the situation of people suffering from gender-based violence.

Forced marriage in various forms, abduction of women, child marriage, polygamy, equated with cultural and religious traditions, seem to be strengthening racist and nationalist sentiments and to constitute an unsolvable problem for society. The roots of violence against women, however, lie in gender inequality, including the economic inequality of women.

For safe conditions and fair wages!

Until now, society continues to divide work between male and female. This leads to the fact that women earn on average a third less than men. In the lowest paid sectors of the economy, women constitute the majority: school teachers, kindergarten teachers, medical and social workers, etc.

Unpaid domestic and reproductive works are considered the limit of female happiness. Therefore, women have less time for development and self-realization. Even if a woman is economically and publicly successful, she achieves success by using the labor of other women from the poor classes (nannies, housekeepers, etc.)

Sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace have been turned into an effective tool for the separation of workers, the formation of distrust between women and men in order to prevent them from uniting and collectively defending their labor rights.

For a free, inclusive and qualitative education without sexism!

Education is rapidly being privatized, turning into a service inaccessible to the majority. Expensive education, however, does not guarantee quality and progressive pedagogy. Analysis of curricula and materials and infrastructure environment shows that today’s education  system is permeated with gender stereotypes and prejudices, limited by numerous barriers, contrary to the principles of gender equality, physical and sexual diversity.

The freedom to be yourself, enough humiliation!

Today, women’s bodies belong to everybody except themselves. Regular initiatives of legislators to prohibit abortion, forced marriages, rape and honor killings are the brightest examples.

Misinterpretation of protection of traditions and family values and strong religious ideology has led to exclusion of body issues, sexual and reproductive behavior from education. As a result, the right to make decisions concerning their body, sexuality and appearance has no practical foundation (is without merit). The transformation of control over female bodies into a profitable product becomes as a normal thing.

At the same time, the access to friendly medical services on reproductive health, the access to safe contraceptives remains a challenge for many women, especially for women from vulnerable communities.  

Equal participation of women in politics and in the decision-making process!

There are still unreasonably few women in positions of power in governance structures. Of particular concern is the fact that in every fifth of the 86 ayil keneshs (regional council) not a single woman was elected.

High positions, as a rule, do not have female definitions, which makes women invisible. At the same time, women’s feminist themes are diminished in politics, the norms adopted by the state on compulsory gender expertise of laws are not violated, and action plans for achieving equality are not being implemented or financed.

Access to public spaces!

Due to uncontrolled construction, sales of state and municipal territories, public spaces have begun to represent a very limited segment of urban and rural life. Lack of parks, public cultural sites, public transport, destroyed sidewalks, cutting of urban trees, air pollution and lack of lighting have obvious gender consequences that negatively affect, primarily, the lives of women, the poor, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

All who agree with our agenda, unite in the “8/365” march and build a liberating female and feminist movement!

  1. Come to the march with your banners or support others! Meet-up at 10.00 at “Rossija” Cinema
  2. Spend the day at the Women’s Town of Solidarity and contribute to the common agenda “8/365”. Begin at 11.00
  3. Organize discussions about freedom and equality in your community. At any time convenient for you.

Organizational chart of the March

  • March coordinators:  Aigul Kabalina, Farida Lansarova
  • Route: from the “Rossija” cinema to the monument of “Revolution fighters” on Chuy Avenue. Stay on the sidewalk.
  • Slogans and banners : make them in your houses or  in our office
  • March starts at:  10 a.m.
  • Control and interaction signals: print and distribute chants
  • The procedure for meeting with media: say hello to everyone you want and accompany them to our media representatives  _____
  • Procedure in case of meeting with opponents:  safety note  
  • Technical support: loudspeakers on wheels and microphones (volunteers)
  • Security: Provided by public security services. If necessary, call ______ or lawyer ____

 Work Program of the Women’s Town of Solidarity

  • Opening: 11 a.m.
  • Greeting the organizers : 12 p.m. (+ flash mob from Y-Peer)
  • Street university «My body,  my business»: 1 p.m. Speakers performance
  • Agenda «8/365»: 2 p.m. Speakers performance
  • Closing: 3 p.m.

Musical accompaniment:

  • List of compositions

Children’s tent

  • During the march, you can leave your child in the children’s tent. Volunteers will look after your child.
  • It will work from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

online викторина “Эл аралык аялдардын солидардуулук күнү: тарых жана азыркы күн” 8-9 марта #IWD2015 #feministkg

Викторину можно также заполнить дальше-ниже в этом посте.


Присоединяйтесь 8-9 марта к нашей онлайн викторине “Международный день женской солидарности: история и настоящее”, заполнив ее по следующей ссылке http://goo.gl/WYfTXq и написав пару слов об участии и своем отношении к этому дню на Facebook, Twitter и по элю почте bishkekfeminists@gmail.com под хэштегами #feministkg #8марта. Мы также приветствуем феминистские вопросы от вас в соц. сетях. Все участницы и участники получат в подарок футболки, наклейки, кружки, постеры и авоськи.

“Эл аралык аялдардын солидардуулук күнү: тарых жана азыркы күн” аттуу онлайн-викторинада катышуу, аны кийинки шилтемеде толтуруп http://goo.gl/WYfTXq жана  өзүңөрдүн бул күнгө болгон мамилеңер жөнүндө эки-үч сөз жазыңыз, аны  Facebook, Twitter же bishkekfeminists@gmail.com электрондук дарекке  #feministkg #8март деген хэштегдерди белгилеп жөнөтүңүз. Бардык катышуучуларга футболка, авоська, кружка жана жабыштыргычтарды белек кылабыз.

Take part in the 8-9 March online quiz, “International Day of Women’s Solidarity: Past and Today.” It is available March 9 on the following link http://goo.gl/WYfTXq. All participants are asked to fill out quiz and share their position on March 8th on their social media pages on Facebook and/or Twitter under the hashtags #feministkg#8марта or email to us at bishkekfeminists@gmail.com. We also welcome feminist questions from you. Active participants will receive T-shirts, stickers, mugs, posters, and tote bags as gifts.

10 Feminist Ways to Celebrate #March8th in Bishkek #feministkg #IWD2015

  1. Today, Chocolate Bar Café is treating all women to mulled wine. Today and every day, Chocolate Bar donates 5% of the profits from your order to young women entrepreneurs. Address: 92/8 Toktogul St. (Between Tynystanov St. and Erkindik Blvd.)


  1. Build Women’s Solidarity – Spend time with women close to you, share your genuine wishes, important questions, and meaningful memories with them; show each other love and value each other for who you truly are. You can read about internalized misogyny here: http://http://ravnopravka.ru/tag/внутренняя-мизогиния.ru/tag/внутренняя-мизогиния


  1. Sign UNiTE’s petition against gender and sexual violence towards women and children in Kyrgyzstan. Detailed information can be found here: http://unitekyrgyzstan.kloop.kg/2013/05/23/srochnaya-petitsiya-ostanovim-v-otnoshenii-detej-v-kr/


  1. Express your position through the online action “I Need Feminism Because.” Send us your position at bishkekfeminists@gmail.com. If you’d like, make a sign with like-minded people, and come to Chocolate Bar at 6:00 PM today, March 8.


  1. Download, print, and read the next issue of the feminist zine Weird Sisters, and make sure to share a copy with your friends. You can download/print the zine here: http://www.art-initiatives.org/?p=15296

Screenshot from 2015-03-08 15:31:20

  1. Print a stencil on the wall at SQ’s house today, or any day. Connect with us by email: bishkekfeminists@gmail.com



  1. Participate in our contest by sharing your story, point of view, ideas, printed postcards, drawings, stencils, reflections, essays, videos, podcasts, songs, anecdotes, poems, analytical news, animations, or opinions in any form, about how you celebrate March 8, what issues you face, how you view this occasion, how you would like to celebrate it, what you would like to organize, what you would protest or what you would join in on through a feminist approach or position. Details here: http://bishkekfeminists.org/2015/03/06/konkursy-feministiruem-8-marta/



  1. Make a donation to  “Chance” Crisis Center, which offers support to women who have suffered violence, including kidnapping and forced marriage, and harassment.


  1. Take part in the 8-9 March online quiz, “International Day of Women’s Solidarity: Past and Today.” It is available March 9 on the following link http://goo.gl/WYfTXq. All participants are asked to fill out quiz and share their position on March 8th on their social media pages on Facebook and/or Twitter under the hashtags #feministkg#8марта or email to us at bishkekfeminists@gmail.com. We also welcome feminist questions from you. Active participants will receive T-shirts, stickers, mugs, posters, and tote bags as gifts.


  1. Join us in writing a Post-March 8 Manifesto online or at our traditional Monday vegan dinner at SQ’s House on March 9, 7:00-9:00 PM