Dilfuza Kurolova (Central Asia Fellow 2019)

Dilfuza is a human rights lawyer, consultant and civic activist from Uzbekistan. She works for the International Commission of Jurists and the World Bank’s citizen engagement project. She is also part of Uzbekistan’s TEDxMustaqillikSquare team.

Dilfuza aims to help promote international standards in economic, social and cultural rights in Uzbekistan. She hopes to do this by improving citizen engagement with local authorities.

“I lead the citizen engagement project in Uzbekistan,” she says. “I look into the processes, mechanisms and tools of how the government is meeting with people and how people are taking part in the decision-making process.’

‘In my country we have established many tools and governing mechanisms, but at some point in the process – the parts are not all working together. So, for me it is important to understand where the block is and how to remove this to make communication between the government and the people easier.”

When Dilfuza was in the UK as a JST Fellow, she focused on learning more about the processes UK local authorities use to ensure sustained citizen engagement at all stages of the policy cycle.

“I am a human rights lawyer,” she explains. “Rule of law is not only obedience to the law. It’s not just about laws on paper. It’s about values: human rights are about dignity, freedom, respect for each other, respect for other people.’

Dilfuza Kurolova

“My specialty is social rights. Social rights are all about our right to education, right to health care, right to freedom of expression, right to freedom of religion. All core values and core rights are social justice.”

“This is one of the things that made me choose the John Smith Trust Fellowship Programme. I felt – and I feel, now at the end of the programme – that all our meetings, all our sessions, were about good governance, rule of law, social justice. These are the John Smith Trust’s core values. Every time we had a meeting, every speaker was talking about transparency, accountability, and working with people and for the people. These are not just the Trust’s values; they are also my core values that I am trying to spread in my home country.”

“Before I came, I was thinking – no I won’t go into politics, no I won’t become a judge. But here at JST, they are saying – yes you can do this. Why don’t you run become a judge? Why don’t you run for parliament? You can do it. You must do it.”

Albina Rakhmidinova (Central Asia Fellow 2019)

Albina is a Senior Lawyer at Kalikova & Associates, the leading law firm in Kyrgyzstan. Her areas of specialty are public-private partnerships (PPP), banking and finance, corporate, government affairs, licensing, taxation, contracts and employment issues. She represents the interests of clients before government agencies and advises companies on legal issues related to their investments and operations in Kyrgyzstan.

Albina is one of the initiators of the use and development of PPP in Kyrgyzstan. She participated in the preparation and implementation of the first PPP project in the country, related to the organisation of dialysis services. She is currently advising the Ministry of Health on the preparation of other PPP projects in the healthcare sector. She also recently participated in drafting the new Kyrgyzstan PPP Law 2019, as well as supporting documents required for the adoption of the law by parliament.


“From the professional side, I am a lawyer and I specialise in public-private partnerships,” she says. “The UK is the land of – how shall I say this? It is a mature marketplace for public private partnerships. I wanted to learn more about PPPs in the UK. I wanted to learn about successes and also failures in PPPs in the UK. I have learned so much. And when I get back to Kyrgyzstan, I want to use my knowledge for the development of PPP in my country.”

Albina’s objective is to support the Kyrgyz Government to develop a comprehensive strategy on PPP promotion. She will support the Ministry of Economy and the newly established Kyrgyz PPP Centre to develop guidelines and instructions on the initiation, preparation and monitoring of PPP projects, as well as arranging workshops to build the capacity of government officials in this area.

“I also wanted to learn more about leadership and to test whether I am a leader or not,” she says. “How can I meet these goals if I am not a leader? And during this month in the UK I have tested myself. And I have discovered that, actually, yes, I am a leader – an emerging leader. Through the Programme I have identified my strong and weak qualities. I think I can do more, and I will take more responsibility to make a difference in my country.’

‘Before I came here, I read about the John Smith Trust, and I knew that they were bringing emerging leaders to the UK. I read it, but I didn’t fully understand. I hadn’t experienced it. But now I understand. All the fellows whom I met are emerging leaders, and they want to make a difference in their countries. I am privileged to have met them. If you ask me – what is the JST Fellowship for you – my first response will be networking, networking with these great Fellows from Central Asian countries. We are so different, but we are all leaders and we want to make changes in our countries.”