A valuable change starts with a single person who dares to take a step forward, and FLEX alumna Aizhan Alzhanova ’04 (Shymkent, Kazakhstan/Gibson, GA) is an outstanding example of that. In 2017 Aizhan founded a club for socially vulnerable women in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. The club is one of the first of its kind. She shares: “It is no secret that being a mother and raising a family, especially with a child with specials needs, prevents many women from having an equal part in Kazakh society. Two fellow mothers of special needs kids and I have founded a club for women, named Altyn Ana, that helps them to learn new skills and inspires them to start businesses of their own. We conduct training courses and different workshops with topics such as freelance work, social networks, and finance.”

Today, the Altyn Ana Club organizes workshops on a biweekly basis and focuses on empowering women and making sure they are aware of the opportunities available to them to succeed. The club regularly works with around 20 women, but there are many more ready to join! This great project has caught the attention and gained support from the city’s administration: “Last month, the Governor of Astana, Aset Issekeshev, began supporting our endeavor and now we are registering our organization as a Social Fund for the support and development of socially vulnerable women. With this designation, we will receive free accommodation to open an activity center for all socially vulnerable women: mothers of special needs children, single mothers, women with disabilities, widows, and victims of domestic violence.”

Support from the government is crucial for a project like this one.   Aizhan shares their plans for the new center: “Our next step is to furnish the180-square meter space. We plan to create an office with laptops, a conference room with white boards, a playroom for children, a kitchen, and a workroom with sewing machines. Our center will enable women to come with children and work, study, and attend workshops while their children play.”

The task of working with socially vulnerable women might seem overwhelming, but luckily Aizhan has a team of truly dedicated people: “There are six people on our team: three co-founders and three members of the board of trustees, including another FLEX alumna, Aygerim Zhauzhurek ’08 (Kokshetau, Kazakhstan/ Beavercreek, OH). We all are working on opening the center as soon as possible. Despite hardships that the team has faced, they have stayed strong and are guided by the goal of helping other women to flourish, become competent experts in any business area, and to contribute to the community. “

The team asserts how rewarding it is to work with the government on this project.  It offers then a way to contribute and have a big their role in the betterment Kazakhstani society: “We believe that in a democratic country, women can and must be equally contributing members of our society.”

 

 

Written by Aknur Berdigulova ‘14

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