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Tajikistan: Women Strive to Carve Out Economic Niche

A woman sells cloth at a market in Khorog, Tajikistan. (Photo: David Trilling)

When it comes to earning a living, women in Tajikistan are turning to leeches, meat factories and medicine as they try to compete in today’s male-dominated business climate.

“Leeches get rid of bad blood and make you beautiful,” said Gulnoz Zairova, a young woman who helps run Jasmine, a beauty salon in Dushanbe. In a snappy beige suit, Zairova stood out among the more traditional bright smocks and headscarves when 50 of Tajikistan’s top female entrepreneurs shared tea at the British ambassador’s residence in Dushanbe during a reception in July.

The event was part of Farah (“Brilliance”) 2012, a contest sponsored by the National Association of Businesswomen of Tajikistan for the title of the country’s first female entrepreneur of the year. “Lots of people know one or two women in business,” said Vicky Fletcher, a British volunteer helping organize the competition. “But we want people to know there are quite a few women around Tajikistan doing good, innovative business.”

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Tajikistan: Women Strive to Carve Out Economic Niche

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