Women are Mentioned Three Times Less Often Than Men by Kyrgyzstan Media

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Kyrgyzstan

Publishing organisation: Central Asian Bureau for Analytical Reporting (project of IWPR in CA)

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2022-12-23

Language: Russian, English

Authors: Natalia Lee (author, Kyrgyzstan), Atobek Rakhimshoev (data analysis specialist, Tajikistan)


Natalia Lee, CABAR.asia regional editor, new media and analytical journalism specialist, podcaster and feminist. I have over 15 years of experience in TV and online media. Co-author of online course Analytical Journalism for Media School CABAR.asia. Co-founder and co-host of Second Shift (“Вторая смена”) podcast. Conducting trainings on journalism and podcasting.

Atobek Rahimshoev, works on data scraping and data analysis at CABAR.asia with 2+ years of working experience. He has an educational background in Business Administration with a Financial concentration.

Project description:

We have parced 17 thousand publications of 3 most popular news agencies in the fourth quarter of 2021 to analize how media in Kyrgyzstan write about women in their stories. We counted how often journalists write about women and men in politics, economy, accidents and social issues categories; how often female speakers are quoted and how media describe women. This research shows that women are less visible in the media space of Kyrgyzstan. They are underrepresented, interviewed less often, and their marital status and age are mentioned more often.

Impact reached:

The article has been published just recently, so it’s hard to track the impact yet. Though, the story was actively shared in KG twitter community, among media community in particular (https://twitter.com/KyrgyzstanMedia/status/1606150879618519041) But I hope this research will encourage journalists to write more stories about women and will motivate media to review their editorial policies. Moreover, I hope to make similar resarch in other Central Asian countries.

Techniques/technologies used:

Both data collection and analysis processes were done using Python. The data was scraped/extracted with Python scripts using Requests, Beautiful Soup, and Selenium Libraries. Cleaning, sorting, and analyzing processes were done with Python Pandas Data Analysis Library. Morphology Tagging was implemented using Natasha Library for Solving Natural Language Processing tasks in the Russian Language.

Context about the project:

Kyrgyzstan is the country where government never pay much attention to women’s rights. Violence against women means less than cattle rustling here. This year two men accused of raping a 16-year-old girl were released from custody in Bishkek. But an akyn is in custody, who is suspected of stealing a horse.

The police do not investigate cases of violence against women or rapes properly. Women are less protected, less represented in politics, economy, art or any technical sphere. Eight of ten homicides of women in Kyrgyzstan are committed by men. A woman earns 72 cent per every 1 dollar earned by a man. 96 per cent of those guilty of domestic violence are men. Those are mainly husbands who beat their wives. Working women in Kyrgyzstan spend three times more time than man on household duties.

Moreover, in Kyrgyzstan a woman is deprived of a basic right to walk safely on the streets, especially at night. If anything happens to her during such a walk – she could be attacked, harassed, raped or killed – the society wonders what she was doing outside at night. However, there are often no questions to the male criminal. Such situations clearly show that media should speak about women’s discrimination and restriction of their rights.

More about femicide in Kyrgystan please find here: https://bit.ly/3XeN22x (in Russian). This story is the winner of Sigma award 2021.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

I hope this research will make journalists and editors to think on how they cover stories about women. In Kyrgyzstan some media use victim blaming when they write about domestic violence or harassment. For example, we can find publications like “Why a wife ‘can be beaten’ – the opinion of the residents of Kyrgyzstan themselves”.

Media should tell such stories to show that violence against women is systemic problem in Kyrgyzstan. To show why legal instruments don’t work but not to blame victims or justify abusers.

Female experts are less represented. Around 90% of political analysts, economists or security experts who we see in news are male. As part of this problem, the number of female members of Parliament is decreasing since 2016. Now it’s just 19 women (out of 90 places) or 21%. There are no successful and independent role models for girls. Even when media shows businesswomen they also tell that she is a good wife, mother.

There are comments of Anna Kapushenko, editor-in-chief of Kloop.kg in this research. Kloop is the only one media in Kyrgyzstan that cover female issues consistently and this topic is included in their editorial policy. I hope this example will inspire other media to do something similar.

Project links: