Like all of the republics of the former Soviet Union, Tajikstan is at a crossroads. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country descended into a ten-year civil war that shattered a way of life that many had come to take for granted. When the dust finally settled, more than 50,000 people were dead, and Tajikistan hit bottom with the lowest GDP of the 15 former Soviet republics.
In the late 1990s, while Tajikistan foundered, Russia, its neighbour to the north began to pull itself out of the recession that followed in the wake of the Soviet Union’s fragmentation. With skyrocketing oil prices and an abundance of timber and other commodities, Russia is booming: the Russian Federation is undergoing a rapid ‘economic transition’, which, in turn, is fuelling a construction boom. This has led to a lot of people migrating from Tajikistan to Russia, leaving their families behind.
Through the Migrant Wives Project, UNFPA and partners provide HIV-prevention services and address issues of reproductive health, poverty, gender equity, human rights and gender-based violence through the provision of micro-credit. The thinking behind this innovative and far-reaching programme is that women cannot be empowered unless they can feed themselves and their children. And they cannot become economically dependent without loans – some of which are as small as $50 but no larger than $100. With an investment of only $3,000, UNFPA and partners have quite literally altered the mindset and economic fortunes of an entire community.