Project Report: Two mountain passes, seven hours in the car; a shared mission but separated by distance

SGS 2023 Grantee: “Gulrukhsor”, Khujand, with “Ghamkhori”, Bokhtar, Tajikistan

Project: To amplify the voices of women suffering from domestic violence and build NGO capacity

Here is their report:

In Tajikistan there are two grassroots organisations that are the leaders in providing services to women victims of domestic violence. One is Women’s Center “Gulrukhsor” (blossoming face), based in Khujand in the north of Tajikistan. The other is “Ghamkhori” (Caring), based in Bokhtar in the south of Tajikistan. To travel from one organisation to the other takes seven hours in the car and involves two mountain passes, which can be dangerous in the winter, or flying between Khujand and the capital Dushanbe and continuing by car.

Although the distances are long, the similarities between the two organisations are immense. Both have the protection of women’s rights at the heart of their mission, both have daily contact with women victims of domestic violence, both have a shelter where women and their children can find safety and refugee in the darkest times, and both have literally saved the lives of women in their communities.

Thanks to funding from The BEARR Trust, for the first time these two organisations’ teams were able to meet, to share experiences and ideas, to understand each other’s work, to see and feel the services provided to women victims and to learn from each other. This had never been possible before. In September 2023, six members of the team from “Ghamkhori” travelled to Khujand, to visit Women’s Center “Gulrukhsor”. And in October a return visit was made to “Ghamkhori” in Khatlon by six members of Women’s Center “Gulrukhsor”.

The aim was to foster deeper cooperation between the two leading providers of services for women victims of domestic violence in Tajikistan, and to explore how better cooperation could improve the level and quantity of service provision, how the voices of women victims of violence can be amplified in society, and how these two grassroots organisations can better advocate for women victims of violence.

In the age of online meetings and perpetual zoom, it is easy to forget the impact that in-person contact can have. We have replaced our physical meetings with computer screens, through an often shaky internet connection. To have four full days of working and talking together as one combined team feels like a luxury, and maybe it is these days. Both organisations work on limited and strained budgets to advocate for the protection of women’s rights and for a life without violence. To have dedicated time, money, objectives and stimulus to meet and learn from each other made a huge difference. The organisations had autonomy and authority to work together on their own terms, to set their own agendas, to decide for themselves how they would cooperate further. Giving this independence, flexibility and authority to grassroots civil society organisations is crucial in helping them to be relevant and active.

The organisations were able to build a foundation of trust and understanding with each other. By deciding to be completely open and transparent with each other, both organisations were able to see and feel just how much there was in common. And it was very interesting to see what was similar and what was different in the communities and their cultures between Khatlon and Sughd regions. This foundation of trust and understanding will now provide the basis from which further cooperation can be built, with planning based on an in-depth knowledge of the strengths and individuality of each organisation.

Through a series of 8 meetings between the organisations and their local communities, 135 people (131 women and 4 men) discussed the important issues around violence against women in Tajikistan; what are the contributing factors, what are the enabling attitudes in families and communities, and how can attitudes and customs be changed to protect women better and prevent violence against women. A range of different people were able to participate, a mixture of community members (including those currently and historically experiencing violence) and community leaders, both formal and informal. These community leaders included heads of villages, heads of neighbourhoods, representatives of the Committee for Women and Family Affairs and teachers. Informal community leaders tended to be older, retired, and had previously held positions of responsibility in their communities.

Whether working to prevent violence against women or in responding to cases, both organisations put the needs of women at the centre of their work. When working with individuals, families and communities, it is so important to amplify the voices of these women. In many situations violence against women is condoned and justified by members of the local community. Helping people to connect with the reality of violence and confront their own prejudices is crucial in changing attitudes. Changing attitudes requires long term and deep relationships with local communities, to secure and maintain trust and respect. From this foundation, sensitive topics can be explored and people can be helped to understand themselves better. Support from The BEARR Trust has allowed both Women’s Center “Gulrukhsor” and “Ghamkhori” to continue their outreach work in their communities.

Gulrukhsor Abdullaeva, Head of Women’s Center “Gulrukhsor” in Khujand says: “Our organisations know better than anyone else in Tajikistan about the realities of violence against women because we help so many women each year. As a result of our project with The BEARR Trust, we are committed to improving our cooperation with “Ghamkhori”, so that jointly we can be better advocates for women suffering from domestic violence, change attitudes and ultimately reduce the number of women who experience violence.”

Madina Nizomova, Head of “Ghamkhori” says: “It is very important for our organization to be independent, to be sustainable and to continually develop. In the society where we live, negative stereotypes break the lives of women. Civil society organizations play an important role in providing support to communities and individuals; a place where people can turn to where they wont face discrimination or judgmental stereotypes. Their work is essential and needs to be supported. Short term projects show the urgent problems we are facing. As a civil society organization, working at grassroots level, we need long-term support in order to change attitudes in our communities and protect the rights of women.”



Gulrukhsor Abdullaeva

Executive Director

Facebook –

Twitter/X – @sgulrukhsor (launching soon)


Madina Nizomova

Executive Director

Facebook – @Ghamkhori-Ghamkhori

Instagram – @ghamkhori

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