In our society today, men and women are thought to be equals to one another though many would argue otherwise. Although, in America, women have ultimately illuminated the gap between the gender hierarchies, men are stilled viewed as the stronger gender. The inequality is particularly evident within many large corporations; men are presented with promotions before women and receive higher paying salaries as well (Catalyst and HBS, 2011). While the concern of gender inequality in America should not be placed on a backburner, it could almost be viewed as trivial, in comparison to the issues of gender present in the Eastern world. Two articles are presented to provide a better understanding of the difficulties women in the East endure concerning gender, focusing on Fergana Village in Uzbekistan.
In the article "The Communal and the Sacred: Women's Worlds of Ritual in Uzbekistan" Kandiyoti and Azimova explore the different aspects of women's lives in Fergana Village, Uzbekistan. The article focuses on two main ideas, life cycle events and religious rituals involving Uzbek women and the difficulties they are facing. In the article “As Islam Replaces Communism in Uzbekistan, Economy Stagnates, Men Remain “More Equal” Than Women” Lucy Jones reports on the economical and religious aspects of women's lives in post-Soviet Uzbekistan. In both articles, there is a common theme: the collapse of Soviet power had a negative impact on women’s lives.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Uzbekistan formed a newly Islamic government, which adopted previously banned traditions. These traditions include arranged marriages and the offering of "kalym", which is payment for the bride from the grooms' family. Kandiyoti & Azimova mentioned the offering of “kalym” within their research, explaining that the idea created a new gap between the wealthy and the poor. Weddings are a huge part of Uzbek culture (Kandiyoti, D & Azimova, N.). Since many weddings are arranged, financial stability of the families is of major importance. Offering of “kalym” is done during the engagement process, if there are multiple suitors, and then the one with a higher bride payment will ultimately be chosen. Inevitably, this drew a large gap between the rich and the poor. Under the Soviet regime, the offering of bride payment was strictly forbidden (Northrop, D., 2008 ). Jones quotes Svetlana Garfareva stating: "Women are losing everything they gained in the Soviet period. In some regions, they are practically being sold”. Many women have committed suicide due to having their marriage arranged (Jones, 1999), especially because arranged marriages often involve oppressive in-laws and abusive husbands.
Jones supports her argument that there is a widening gap between men and women, by reporting on a young Uzbek woman named Nadira. Jones exemplifies Nadira, who had an arranged marriage, states that her mother-in-law does not allow her to stay out long, and her husband does not allow her to work. Nadira states that the situation with her in-laws is difficult, but there is nothing that can be done. Jones states that during her interview, Nadira was sitting quietly in the corner wearing a headscarf, which she wore at the request of her in-laws.
Kandiyoti & Azimova draw a conclusion similar, but unlike Jones, their article focuses more on the gender separation within religious practices versus family life. The authors concentrate on one particular ritual, “mevlud”, which is the honoring of Prophet Mohammed’s birth. The “mevlud” was mostly practiced by women and had been one of the most important all day events within the country (Kandiyoti, D., & Azimova, N.). Kandiyoti & Azimova describe the ritual in great detail, which almost always conducted in one of the women’s homes and involves many different instrumental symbols. Within Islam, the worship and use of symbols to perform any religious rituals is