Uzbek schools to drop gender stereotypes

Samarkand, Uzbekistan Image copyright Stefan Lippmann/Getty Images
Image caption More than 35% of the Uzbek popuation is aged under 14

Uzbekistan is to review its school textbooks in an effort to root out gender stereotypes.

This follows a review of their content by UNESCO, the United Nations' education and culture agency, which said textbooks tend to nudge female students towards jobs in healthcare and teaching rather than science and technology, the Uzbek Review news portal reports.

In support of the argument, the portal reproduced a page from the "ABC of Ethics" textbook, in which students discuss their future careers.

"The boys dream of becoming composers, engineers and businessmen, while the girls aim to be clothes designers and gymnasts," it said.

The Uzbek Review also noted that all the historical compatriots quoted as sources of inspiration are men - from the princely astronomer Ulughbek to the polymath Al-Biruni.

'Throw stones'

Illustrations also show women and girls typically doing the laundry and ironing school uniforms, but boys don't escape stereotyping either. They are described as "careless about their possessions, prone to throw stones at animals and windows - they can't sit quietly in class, and interrupt lessons".

The education ministry plans to remedy these stereotypes by assembling a team of international specialists, who will work with ministry officials on new textbooks.

The UNESCO office in Tashkent has also been accepting applications to help on the project, which is due to report its findings in April.

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President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has made efforts to boost the profile of women in senior government posts, with Tanzila Norboyeva became the first female speaker of the Senate in December.

But women still lag far behind men in most spheres outside the healthcare and education professions.

Official figures show that less than 12% of judges and heads of corporations are women - and the figure drops to 5% for members of the government itself, the Uzbek Review says.

Image copyright Yoshlar TV/YouTube
Image caption The commission is due to report in April

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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