Since the end of the war in Chechnya when women took active roles in public life, there has been a steady decline in their status. Today, women and girls are treated as second-class citizens by the authorities and their families. Young women are being told who to marry, what to study and what to wear.
Stripped of agency and any decision-making power, girls and young women face domestic violence, abductions, early marriage and honour killings. Despite these crimes being punishable under Russian law, they are ignored in Chechnya.
In trying to combat gender inequality, Chechen women’s rights activists have been swimming against a strong current of patriarchy and religious conservatism. Being modest and obedient is drummed into girls from childhood. There are families that do not allow their daughters to study at university. Girls are pushed to marry early and once married, they are economically dependent on their husbands.
Sexual violence, particularly by a relative, and cases of domestic abuse are hardly ever prosecuted. Relatives put pressure on victims to remain quiet in order to not bring shame on the family. Girls and women are forced to remain in abusive relationships due to social and financial pressure.
Doveriye was established in 2002 to help Chechen girls and women strengthen their role in society and create a safe environment conducive to their personal and professional development.
Doveriye conducts professional training sessions and educates girls on their rights and career choices. It has created a safe space where girls meet twice a week to take part in interactive events related to human rights, leadership skills and career advice.
All the programmes are drawn up in response to the needs and requests of girls and women who participate directly at the planning stage of events. Through its education programme, Doveriye covers themes including self-expression and identity, self-determination and independence, safety and freedom.
The organisation also offers master classes delivered by experts in various fields including science, journalism, art, acting, as well as with sports and business personalities. The programmes are aimed at maximising positive change in the lives of girls as well as changing public opinion.
Despite operating in an extremely difficult environment, Doveriye has worked tirelessly to find ways to support girls in their self-realisation. Its creative programmes and grassroots organisation have been key to its success. So far, Doveriye has helped over 1,000 people, more than half of whom are under 19.