Despite positive changes in legislation and human capital development, Uzbekistan still faces gender inequality in the labor market. This is stated in the Uzbekistan Country Gender Assessment (CGA) Report, prepared by the World Bank with the financial assistance of the UK government.

This report examines gender equality in Uzbekistan across several domains, including education, health, economic activity, protection from gender-based violence, marriage, divorce, and participation in public life.

The CGA considers social norms, assessing cultural attitudes and practices influencing rights and perceptions of women in Uzbekistan’s society. The report offers recommendations to close gender gaps and promote inclusive prosperity.

According to the report, female labor force participation in 2021 lagged behind males' by 28 percentage points (pp). This figure is above the average for the Europe and Central Asia region excluding high-income countries, which is 19 pp.

Young women face higher unemployment rates (15.5%) compared to young men (10%). The share of young women who were not in employment, education, or training (NEET) reached 42%, compared to 8.8% for young men. Additionally, wage gender gaps are significant, with women earning 34% less than men, exceeding the global average of 20%.

Low pay and employment rates among women directly hinder economic growth and exacerbate poverty in Uzbekistan, the report mentioned.

If women participated in the country’s economy on par with men, the national income in Uzbekistan would rise by 29%. Simply matching men’s and women’s income would pull over 700,000 people out of poverty, the experts estimated.

“However, entrenched gender norms, where women are primarily responsible for caregiving and household duties, impede progress towards gender equality and inclusive economic growth,” the bank stated.

The report highlights Uzbekistan’s significant progress on gender equality since 2017. Notable advancements include ensuring equal pay and removing job restrictions for women in the Labor Code adopted in 2022. Restrictions on women’s labor in certain industries have been abolished. The new Labor Code, adopted in October 2022, includes provisions that comply with international standards and conventions on labor protection rights.
Norms protecting women from domestic violence were also adopted. In April 2023, the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Responsibility were amended to combat domestic violence, including physical, psychological and economic violence in family relations.

Considering these legislative changes, the World Bank’s annual Women, Business and the Law report included Uzbekistan in the top five reformer countries for gender equality among 190 states in 2024.

The report’s authors also noted significant improvement in women’s access to education and health services in Uzbekistan. For instance, enrollment in higher education has seen a substantial increase. From 2017 to 2022, access to higher education among men tripled, to 29%, and for women it quadrupled to 27.4%.

Measures aimed at ensuring equal access to healthcare have led to a reduction in child and maternal mortality over the past 30 years. Specifically, infant mortality has declined from 34.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 9.2 deaths in 2021.

Among other recommendations, the report suggests that Uzbekistan’s authorities continue addressing gender inequalities for the country to realize its full economic potential.

This includes eliminating social norms that limit women’s economic activity, further reducing unequal access to higher education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields and health services, improving family planning options, further developing mechanisms to protect women from violence, and addressing their underrepresentation in decision-making positions.

“Despite these obstacles, the CGA finds that Uzbekistan is leveraging a solid foundation of progress, offering promising prospects for enhanced gender equality in the future,” the report mentioned.