Concepts, Research, Policy
Elgar original reference
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Jane Falkingham and Angela Baschieri Introduction The break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent transition to market-led economies were accompanied by a decade of economic and social upheaval on an unprecedented scale. The Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were already among the poorest of the Soviet Republics and following independence in 1991, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita more than halved, while spending on social services such as health, education and social protection declined even further. During the early 1990s, the proportion of the population in the region living in poverty rose dramatically as inequality widened, real wages fell and unemployment increased. At the end of a decade of transition, an estimated 39 million people living in Central Asia and the Caucasus were living in poverty, of which over 14 million were living in extreme poverty (Falkingham, 2005). In 2003, nearly three-quarters of the populations of Tajikistan (74 per cent) and Kyrgyzstan (70 per cent) were surviving on less than $2.15 PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) a day, along with just under half the population of Uzbekistan (47 per cent) (Alam et al., 2005: table 2, 238–41). The economic and social transformation of the region has affected women and men in different ways, creating both new opportunities and challenges. For many women in Central Asia, there has been a reversal of the gains in political representation and leadership positions achieved during the Soviet Union with the re-emergence of traditional gender roles (Harris, 2004). Women as primary care...
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