Pomegranates grow in winter
Faded memories connect me to Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia where I lived during my early childhood. Twenty years later, I wanted to know what the girls I had been in Kindergarten with had become — what were their realities, their hopes, and their dreams?
Over several trips, I met women who allowed me to better understand what it means to be a young woman in Kyrgyz society today. In an ongoing exchange, we collaborated to create portraits in hopes of visualizing their experiences and daily lives.
The post-soviet generation in Kyrgyzstan is challenged with the re-shaping of the country’s future. Historically, Kyrgyz women have occupied important positions in their communities, yet gender inequality remains deeply rooted within society. Depending on family and education, the role of the woman varies, but most often they face expectation of becoming the perfect daughter-in-law, wife, and mother. Though higher education is now encouraged, the pressure for women to marry in their early twenties is still strong for many. In rural areas, the practice of bride kidnapping is a reality and seen as a daily threat, as the law against it is often not enforced. Despite these challenges, more and more young women are standing up for change and recognition in their country. On International Women’s Day 2019, a large group of women gathered in Bishkek’s central square, screaming “flowers are not enough,” and giving a strong voice for the empowerment of the future generation. Through discussions, interviews, and a collaborative approach, this project attempts to document the strong differences in character, appreciation of female roles, and striving for independence of Kyrgyz women.