Sometimes, individuals have to advocate for themselves to gain access to their legal rights.
Bibirajab Boymakhmadova knows this first hand. Bibirajab is a female farmer in Tajikistan, and one of over 30 shareholders in a mid-sized farm called Khirobon. In Tajikistan, the government has passed a series of laws to restructure collective farms, allowing agricultural laborers withdraw and create their own private, individual farms. Yet it can be difficult for farmers to navigate this process in practice. Many shareholders do not understand the legal process for creating their own farms, and farm leaders can create barriers that make it difficult for shareholders to exercise their individual land rights.
Creating a private farm can be especially complicated for women. In Tajikistan, a series of factors including war, labor migration, and cultural norms have created an agricultural labor sector that is 80 percent female. Yet relatively few of these women hold leadership roles within the farming sector. Local authorities are not always supportive of women’s efforts to establish their own farms, and the head of the Khirobon farm made it difficult for Bibirajab to withdraw from being a shareholder and establish an individual farm.