How to accelerate transformations by enhancing the role of women in public administration?

23 May 2018

 Participation of women in public administration in the context of economic, social and institutional transformations

It is known that the main factor behind the economic growth and development is structural transformations with the focus on the manufacturing industries and services with the high level of technological sophistication. Uzbekistan has stepped up its structural reforms in this regard. However, the breakthrough will imply the need for the additional reserves of growth and development to be found.

Strengthening the role of women in public administration can become  such a reserve for Uzbekistan. Analysis indicates that the “women in power” factor becomes a significant factor for accelerating inclusive growth[1], improved transparency of institutions[2] and positive structural transformations.. It is interesting that a positive relationship between the level of women's presence in government and the level of the country’s development, appears in the group of countries to which Uzbekistan belongs - that is in countries with an income of between $4,120 and $12,750 per capita.

The current stage of structural reforms is an enabling moment for the "women in public administration" focus, to become a new factor for Uzbekistan’s economic breakthrough. This stage requires effective social lifts for recruiting women at the mid-level, thereby increasing the proportion of women in executive power from 5.3% to between 16% and 18%. At the same time, it is critically important to deepen the industrialization process, by bringing the manufacturing industry’s share of the GDP up from 9% to 20%.

Currently, the presence of women in Uzbekistan’s public administration is low. In 2017 the share of women in legislature (Oliy Majlis, Parliament) was 16%. In the executive branch, in ministerial positions, it was 5.3%. There has been a reduced presence of women in public administration, despite there being:

  • A lack of formal (legislative) restrictions on the ‘upward’ promotion of women;
  • The adoption of a package of incentive measures[3];
  • The existence of a gender quota (2003), according to which women should constitute at least 30% of the number of candidates nominated by political parties.

In the international practice, a similar situation has been termed the ‘glass ceiling’, which is the limited career advancement of women caused by invisible but insurmountable barriers. The key problem shaping Uzbekistan’s "glass ceiling" are weak social lifts for women, evident in women’s low potential as political actors, and the ineffective mechanisms for recruiting women into public administration.

Increasing the competitiveness of women as political actors.

In order to increase women’s compliance with the requirements of higher positions in the state administration system, it is necessary:

  • To increase the enrollment of women in higher education by increasing the quota for admission to universities and transform the structure of education with the focus on engineering, life science;
  • To create a flexible post-graduate short-term education system for women aged 35 to 40 years.

Women  may show an interest in moving to a power position closer to the 35 to 40 year bracket, by when their children have grown up. The short-term nature of such an educational format is crucial.

Improving the effectiveness of mechanisms for recruiting and promoting women within the public administration system

To this end, it is necessary to strengthen the channels, where there is already a critical mass of women at medium levels (including in political parties, the courts, the judiciary, law enforcement, the science sector, and the mass media).

  • The transformation of political parties, courts, the mass media, and the science sector into effective social lifts, building a system for training and promoting women leaders. To this end, it is necessary to ​​a) to develop a mechanism for the search for, development and promotion of suitable female candidates from these sectors to senior government posts, b) to develop clear conditions for women entering public administration through political parties, the media, courts, scientific institutions, and to c) to expand the practice of appointing women serving as the heads of mass media (editors-in-chief), judges, and academicians to higher public posts;
  • The transformation of women entrepreneurs into serious economic actors through the transformation of the main economic actors (enterprises). In particular, the gradual transformation of the structure of economic actors from the model of large and small enterprises, to the model of large, medium and small enterprises, will create an additional social lift to increase women’s participation in public administration;
  • The establishment of separate women's units in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the women's road patrol/tourist service, following the example of Mexico City where a women's traffic police office was established in 1999, and in Peru where women are hired by the police. The growing presence of women in law enforcement and the justice system, as currently observed in Uzbekistan, makes it possible to pilot these initiatives.


The SDG Dialogue was organized by the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme in Uzbekistan, with financial support of the British Embassy in Uzbekistan.


[1] As a result of the accelerated implementation of programs that reduce the gender gap in labor markets.



[2] Because of the greater law-abidingness of women (corruption being the opposite of altruism, the latter being much more present in women than in men) and the tendency of women to increase competition in all spheres.



[3] These include: 1) the creation of the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan with offices throughout the country (1991), 2) the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On the increase of the role of women in state and public construction" No. 1084 (1995), 3) The National Plan Action for the Advancement of Women for 1998-2007, based on the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action (1998), and others.



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