Inspiring girls to dream big in rural Tajikistan  


Muhaiyo Nozimova, Sabrina Kandenova and Regina Sokolova (JST 2018, Tajikistan) have been supporting girls at a remote school in Tajikistan’s Abdurahmoni Jomi District to follow their professional dreams – both for themselves and their communities. These three talented professionals from different sectors met during their JST Fellowship Programme in the UK. Muhaiyo is a journalist and founder of Zira Media, an online platform aiming to improve young people’s media literacy; Sabrina is the Head of Risk at First Microfinance Bank in Tajikistan; and Regina is a Spotlight Initiative Project Officer, UN Women in Tajikistan.  

As part of the JST Fellowship Programme in 2018, 6 JST Fellows from Tajikistan created a presentation about a fictional typical Tajik citizen named Umeda to illustrate some of the challenges that their country faces and some of the ways that the Action Plans that they developed during their 4 weeks in the UK would contribute to improving Umeda’s life.

Inspired by their experiences in the UK and what they had heard about John Smith’s commitment to public service, Muhaiyo, Sabrina and Regina decided to see if they could inspire young girls like Umeda to do something for their wider communities, as a starting point for future public service. They launched an essay competition about ‘dreaming big’ and received over 40 entries from young girls with big ideas for their communities and selected three exceptional young writers who wanted to improve their community’s livelihoods. They selected 3 pupils from secondary school #13 in remote Abdurahmoni Jomi District who had personal reasons and impetus to pursue professions including in policing, medicine and business. As well as awarding the girls’ school a prize (which was contributed to by all JST alumni in Tajikistan), Muhaiyo, Sabrina and Regina spent time talking with the girls at their school about their education and travels overseas and professional journeys.  Muhaiyo described how “once we reached the school, girls from other classes also came to meet us. They asked questions about the JST Programme, our professions, why we started this initiative and whether they could also study abroad like us. During our discussion, girls from other classes shared their dreams with us as well. This is not the end of the story – we plan to go back to follow the girls’ progress.” 

Muhaiyo, Sabrina and Regina are grateful to the JST Programme for bringing them together with likeminded young professionals from different sectors across their region and are determined to continue the initiatives they started together.