WE Int., committed to lifting up women and shedding light on their work, introduces its members as part of the series #SheInspires. In this article, we introduce to you Zilola Husenovna, who was born in Uzbekistan and now is a doctoral student at Keio University. Zilola said she's fortunate to be encouraged to do more by her parents compared with many girls in Uzbekistan.
"I realized that without changing the community’s thinking, a lot of other open-minded mothers and a lot of young girls are going to fall into depression."
Read about her story and what she's working on for encouraging girls to lead their own life in the future.
1.Tell us about yourself.
Born in the beautiful historical city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, I am indeed an oriental girl. Grew up surrounded by the love and constant care of the family with two siblings. Being an intermediate child, I have had quite an independent spirit from my childhood. I remember deciding that I don’t want to attend the music classes, but instead want to go to extra English classes! Although not proud of ending up not playing any instrumental music, I am very happy with the effort I put into learning English. It not only helped me enter one of the top 3 universities in Uzbekistan but also gave me an awesome opportunity to meet amazing people from all around the world!
2. What is your passion in life? What are you working on?
I am extremely passionate about life itself, but if you ask me what I am doing from the social context, I am a doctoral student at Keio University. The awe I got from studying abroad lead to immense love for education. The best part is, of course, meeting awesome people on the way! Being gratefully overwhelmed with the community I am in, listening to various stories of fellow international students in Japan, I decided to research it! So, I am working on studying “Network building of international students in Japan”, the results of which will, hopefully, help international students to have an even more meaningful, fruitful, and amazing international education experience!
3. How's gender equality in your country? What’s your perspective on Japan’s gender equality movements?
The gender equality situation in Uzbekistan is not one of the best in the world. I would say it is one of the worst, actually. There is an embedded strong notion of being a “girl” or a “boy” from the day kids are born. “You are a girl, you should help clean in the house”, “You are a girl, you will become a mother, so learn how to take care of kids by looking after small kids around”, “You are a girl, so don’t even think about going to university!” “Why does a girl need to study at all?”, etc. These are some of the very common notions one can hear. I was one of those fortunate girls who was only encouraged to do more and to study more by my parents whenever I showed my passion! I am very grateful to them for not blocking my way towards studying in Japan, (for many, many girls in Uzbekistan the situation is not this fortunate!)
4. What was your motivation to join WE Int.? Do you have anything you want to share with members?
Because of the unfortunate situation for many girls in Uzbekistan, a whole lot of them are never encouraged to discover anything, everything is decided by everyone else. This leads to bitter feelings, depression, and mental health disorders in many women at some point in their life. COVID-19 caused my mom to have depression. However, the main reason for her depression was “the comments” by the community telling about “How unfortunate she is to have a daughter who is in good age and still unmarried!” She started blaming herself for making me “unhappy”, while I, on the other, hand am tremendously grateful that she always let me choose my path.
After seeing that nothing I am saying is really helpful, I realized that without changing the community’s thinking, a lot of other open-minded mothers and a lot of young girls are going to fall into depression. Having this in mind, I started a project of interviewing girls who study abroad, so that my mother and other parents in Uzbekistan can see what the girls who study abroad are like. This initiative led me to meet one of the WE Int.’s members. It is amazing how the most important people just appear in your life just at the right time! This is how I met Lilly and happily joined the like-minded awesome members of WE Int.!