A Relentless Champion for Land Rights in Tajikistan.

“I want to show (my daughters) through the experiences of this project that they have nothing to fear, that they can achieve their goals if they don’t give up.”

Gulbahor Rajabova, a farmer from Tajikistan

“I can’t sit around and watch women being disrespected and mistreated because they don’t know their legal rights, because they are afraid to fight. I want to support them and help them to get what they deserve.”

Gulbahor Rajabova, a farmer from Tajikistan

“The project provides help to farmers to know more about laws and to not be afraid and to go to court to protect their interests according to the law,” said Nodira Sidyakova, legal director for the project.

After having won her legal case and reclaiming her farmland with support from the project, Gulbahor could have gone back to farming, providing for her and her two young daughters. Instead, she decided she would get more involved in the project. She knew from experience that it is often an uphill battle for farmers, women in particular, to have a say in their economic well-being and livelihoods where land tenure is concerned.

Gulbahor regularly meets with female farmers to inform them about the social and legal support they can seek out. Her simply furnished office is an approachable environment where she provides one-on-one consulting with farmers and answers their questions about a variety of topics, including local land committee rights and land taxes. On occasion, she has reached out to project lawyers when their expertise is needed. Guiding her efforts is a simple goal to educate those around her.

23,500

farmers who work on ‘dekhan farms’ (family farms) trained

49

court cases won by legal aid centers set up by project

6847

rural land users benefited through legal aid centers

“I can’t sit around and watch women being disrespected and mistreated because they don’t know their legal rights, because they are afraid to fight,” Gulbahor said. “I want to support them and help them to get what they deserve.”

In an environment where most farmers still struggle to assert their land rights, Gulbahor’s leadership cannot be overstated. Her personal efforts have contributed to a larger shift in the agriculture sector that the Tajikistan Land Reform Project has helped to bring about. In three years, the project helped more than 34,000 farmers and provided training to more than 23,500 individuals who work on dehkan farms, or family farms. Legal aid centers set up by the project won 49 of 51 court cases, which in turn benefited 6,847 rural land users.

It is true that Gulbahor’s work has helped many Tajik farmers to better understand their land tenure rights. Yet, her work as a relentless champion for women also hits closer to home. By taking a position of leadership, she has proven herself as a role model not only for the farmers of Tajikistan, but also for her two daughters.

“I want to show (my daughters) through the experiences of this project that they have nothing to fear, that they can achieve their goals if they don’t give up,” Gulbahor said. “In life, it is important to fight for what is right.”