Voices from Eurasia

Human rights

What does inequality look like?

15 Sep 2017 by Jodi Hilton, Photojournalist

Photographer Jodi Hilton traveled to 5 countries in Europe & Central Asia to document inequalities for UNDP’s Regional Human Development Report. Here is what she saw through her lens. … Read more

How can we promote respect for LGBTI rights in Albania?

21 Apr 2017 by Nora Kushti, Communication & Advocacy Expert, UNDP & UN Albania

Gay Pride Parade in Tirana. Photo: UNDP Albania
Since the political and social transformation of the ‘90s, Albania has been working to put in place a system to secure human rights for all. As a candidate country for EU membership, one of the five priorities set for Albania entails re-formulation of the Criminal Code provisions regarding hate speech, discrimination, as well as the amendment of the Family Code. Among measures undertaken to comply with EU requirements is the adoption by Parliament of a comprehensive non-discrimination law that includes the protection of sexual orientation and gender identity. But in my country, implementation of laws is always under constant need of improvement. … Read more

When it comes to the lives of LGBTI people, dialogue can save lives

21 Mar 2017 by Seda Karaca and John Macauley

gay pride tiranaEven though progress is on its way, many LGBTI members suffer discrimination across the region. Photo: Albinfo/Wikipedia
It is not news that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people face discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity around the world. The situation is no better in Eastern Europe. Opinion survey from Western Balkans conducted in 2015 reveals staggering results: 50 percent of the respondents think “a child cannot become gay in normal families”;25 percent of the surveyed say “gay people are no better than criminals”; More than 50 percent perceive homosexuality as a sickness; Around 30 percent admit that they would stop communication after discovering a friend to be LGBTI. There have been several attacks against gay men in Prishtina. In 2016, 5 attacks happened in a row in Belgrade against LGBTI persons, including a prominent activist. It’s worth noting that only two of these attacks were reported to the police. This raises the issue of lack of trust in authorities among LGBTI communities. … Read more

In Moldova, we can make investigative journalism great again. Here's how.

20 Feb 2017 by Olga Crivoliubic, Project Manager, UNDP Moldova and Mariana Rata, Journalist

anti-corruption drawingJournalists gather in Moldova. Photo: UNDP Moldova / Mircea Zatusevschi
Corruption offences often remain unexposed; investigative journalists often put themselves at high risk to shed light on these crimes. That’s why, last year as UNDP in Moldova we partnered with the National Anticorruption Centre to organise a contest for the best journalistic investigations on corruption. In publicly recognising the strongest journalistic efforts, we aimed to bring further awareness to their work. Read the testimony of Mariana Rata, a reputable investigative journalist who takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by investigative journalism in Moldova. If investigative journalism today exists in the Republic of Moldova at all, it exists only as ‘connected’ to the oxygen mask of external donors. Investigative journalism is an expensive product due to the amount of time and material resources it requires (including access to databases and public registries.) Indeed, no newspaper can afford an investigative journalist unless they are paid from the funds provided by external partners for different projects. … Read more

Can women lead the global fight against corruption?

14 Nov 2016 by Shqipe Neziri Vela and Blerim Vela

kosovo-women-coding-course-anticorruption-gender-equalitySource: Girls Coding Kosova Facebook Page
When it comes to addressing corruption globally, there’s a lack of using gender-sensitive approaches. In recent years, we at UNDP in Kosovo* have carried out assessments on the impact of corruption on women and men. Most of this research proved that corruption is not gender neutral. That is to say, women experience corruption differently than men, which can limit their access to public services. At the same time, our studies have also shown women to be better at identifying corruption practices and more likely to find them unacceptable. But are women actually any less corrupt than men? … Read more

Labour migrants in Central Asia deserve our attention

19 Sep 2016 by Elena Oleshko

steelworkersCentral Asian migrant steelworkers.
Irregular migrants are at higher risk of health problems Across the region, it has become critically difficult for newly arriving migrants to work legally. While regular migrants have access to a range of social and health care services, irregular migrants can only access emergency medical care. The lack of a required legal status creates a vicious circle for irregular migrants, where tightened migration regimes push them into informal economic activities that don’t provide them with health insurance and lead to poor life-long health outcomes. … Read more

When it comes to law reform, think long-term: Plan ahead, plan better

16 Jun 2016 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

In the Kyrgyz Republic, there are 172,800 people with disabilities – corresponding to 2.9 percent of the population. Out of these, 28,200 are children living in orphanages. The average amount of the monthly benefit is of US$ 35 and represents a significant financial burden on the state. It is clear that we need to invest more strongly in justice systems, paying particular attention to most vulnerable groups. But it’s always the same story: You meet with national authorities to discuss how to improve rule of law, or access to justice for the citizens or most vulnerable groups. The conversation is going well but when it comes to discussing finances, you hit a wall. And it’s understandable – deciding how to allocate a budget is a difficult endeavor, whether you are in a lower, middle or higher income country. And it’s a matter of national priorities, so international organizations can only go so far to make a difference. National ownership of reforms is a key principle without exceptions. … Read more

The long road to prosperity in Kosovo*

17 Feb 2016 by Andrew Russell

The recent news out of Kosovo has been bleak. The tensions between the ruling coalition and opposition is growing, while public protests against recent agreements with Serbia and Montenegro have turned violent. But let’s take a step back and look at the other side of the story. In 1999, following a decade of conflict in the Western Balkans, peace returned to Kosovo. Between 2000 and 2010, Kosovo’s economy grew faster than the European average. The international community has contributed enormously to the reestablishment of security, rehabilitation of infrastructure, and the creation and strengthening of public institutions. And our Kosovan partners have invested significant resources in reducing poverty, creating jobs, and improving welfare. … Read more

Kyrgyzstan: what does it take to make the invisible visible?

16 Jun 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

And justice for all? Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan
A friend in Kyrgyzstan recently told me about the first time she saw a person with disabilities: She had just turned 19 and left the country to study abroad. Day-to-day life makes it easy to forget the people with disabilities who live among us. There are few accessible ramps in Bishkek. A recent trip to the northern part of Kyrgyzstan drove this point home even more. I was in Kara Balta, a remote town populated by fewer than 40,000 inhabitants, and an economy largely dominated by the mining industry. … Read more

A Call to Action: Stop “Bride Kidnapping"

26 Feb 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Although local activists continue their efforts to stop the tradition of bride kidnapping, more work is needed to make a difference.
One of the less pleasant things associated with Kyrgyzstan is the cruel tradition of “bride kidnapping”. Recent research from local NGOs show that at least fifty percent of the marriages in the country involve elements of this ritual. Essentially, “bride kidnapping” is the ritual of ambushing a young woman and detaining her until she agrees to marry her kidnapper. In the best-case scenario, she is subject to enormous psychological pressure and brainwash from female relatives of the kidnapper to accept the marriage; the rest of the time, she is a subject of rape. I read a lot of sad stories about this tradition, most of which consist of cultural justifications based on the poor economic situation of Kyrgyzstan. But perhaps the most striking story of all is the direct account of a dark-eyed young woman who I will call Roza. … Read more

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