She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “You cannot go ahead while sitting on your chair” … and “I am grateful to destiny that I am a mother. My unfortunate personal life and the loss of a first child depressed me. Doctors warned me of the risks if I tried to have another child. However, the thirst for the happiness of motherhood filled me so much that I took the risk. It was a difficult delivery but now I cannot imagine life without my son. Children are flowers whose aroma and beauty we enjoy and make us forget all the difficulties of the world. We try to teach and educate them but sometimes we are the ones who learn from them”.
Lazzat Ishmukhamedova – Kazakhstan
She works for the Ishenim Regional Partnership Network (named on DCCA) and for the Moldir Women’s Association MWA.
She says also: “It could be due to my active temperament that I have achieved what I have now. I am filled with joy, satisfaction and pride by what the association has achieved, a support center for children from poor families, the Moldir Micro-Credit Organization and the establishment of other self-help federations with the assistance of MWA. Presently MWA is helping to develop more NGOs to share its 11-year experience in poverty reduction in rural areas. I think the success of any enterprise depends on the ability to think positively in any situation, to set a goal and strive to achieve it regardless of all obstacles. Only then one can achieve the peak which seemed unattainable. It is not for nothing that a Kazakh proverb says, ‘Eyes are afraid but hands work”.
Lazzat Ishmukhamedova founded the Association of Single Mothers in 1993. In 1998, the association adapted an Indian model for poverty reduction, a self-help group concept that could motivate the most vulnerable population groups. In 2001, the membership expanded, and the organization was renamed Moldir Women’s Association MWA. It has implemented 23 social projects with 10,000 people, including the Moldir Micro-Credit Organization. It also assists the establishment of other self-help federations in rural areas.
She was born on 27 December 1954 in the city of Almaty, the southern capital of Kazakhstan. She was raised in a big friendly one-parent family.
Lazzat’s mother was widowed at a young age and had five young children. She had great difficulties but her calm appearance concealed the strength that enabled her to raise her children with great dignity. The children always admired their mother’s strength and wisdom. Now she raises her grandchildren too. She received the Labor Red Banner Order award.
Her father was always a symbol of an ideal father and husband. Lazzat could not but admire his warm and caring attitude to her mother. The loss of her father was a great blow to Lazzat and forced her to grow up quickly. This could be the reason why Lazzat always wanted to be independent.
After finishing school she enrolled in a Pedagogical Institute while simultaneously working in the Institute of Economics. After graduating from the Kazakh Pedagogical Institute, later named Abai Pedagogical Institute, with a major in biology, she worked for several years as a schoolteacher in a vocational school. Then in the early 1990s there was high unemployment. Single mothers, widows and divorced women with children suffered most of all. After the loss of her first child, the medical doctors categorically told her that she could not risk getting pregnant again. But despite all the warnings, Lazzat gave birth to her son, Alen, in 1993, and in the same year, she lost her job. She resented the fact that educated women were not in demand.
Her son’s birth however, gave her inexhaustible energy, strength, inspiration and renewal. This encouraged her to bear another child: the Single Mothers Association. In the beginning it was very difficult, they had to bear misunderstanding, envy, and anger. The name Single Mothers Association often caused mockery and skepticism. But despite all the obstacles she found enthusiastic followers who supported the noble idea of uniting single women. The organization’s mission was to support vulnerable families and give them hope in their social standing and to promote gender equality.
In the very beginning, the association mainly provided free assistance to single mothers, widows and divorced women with children. Today the association is known within Kazakhstan and abroad. It provides support to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in rural areas through training and consultation and shares its experience in implementing the self-help concept. It also unites thousands of poor families and helps them solve their problems.
Lazzat received an award, by Presidential decree during the tenth anniversary of Kazakhstan, for her contribution to society and was elected delegate to the first NGO Civil Forum and the Forum’s Presidium. For its contribution to the development of entrepreneurship in the city of Almaty, the association was named the best public organization by the Mayor of Almaty. Lazzat was included in the book “Azhar’s 100 Women Personalities Living Legends” as an active leader of a public organization.
Lazzat has always been attracted to work with children because for her, children are the life of every woman. Her indefatigable strength is remarkable. (1000PeaceWomen).
A report from the Microfinance Information eXchange, Inc. November 2006.