Guest post by Manizha Khailobekova, 2020-2021 Emerging Leader of Tajikistan
Editor’s note: Manizha Khailobekova’s guest post is part of our series, Emerging Leader Voices, which invites TechWomen Emerging Leaders to share their voice, perspective and experiences with the TechWomen community.
I’ve worked for almost six years for the Central Asia Institute Tajikistan, a U.S-based non-profit that brings equal education access to communities throughout Central Asia. I know firsthand about the work that makes a significant contribution in Central Asia, especially its most vulnerable population — women and children. Our slogan is “Educate a girl and change the world.”
Life is a learning process. During my professional experience at Central Asia Institute Tajikistan I have traveled often to the remote areas of my region, and I grow and learn new things every time, discovering new insights and learning new lessons. I’ve learned that happiness does not depend on how rich you are or how educated you are or how many experiences you have; rather, it is a state of the soul.
Growing up, I was inspired by my mom. We were three children at home, one boy and two girls, and my parents had supported us — especially the daughters – in our education. Even when I got married, my parents said marriage is not the end of education but rather the beginning. They told me the world is always progressing, and you have to be ready for it. I’d already earned a bachelors in biology, but it inspired me to get my second bachelors in finance and credit. On March 6th I delivered my first baby, and on April 1st, I had my last state examination at my university. At times I wanted to leave my finance education for a year — it was an extremely difficult time for me. But my mom said “No, you will pass them now, and you can do it. I believe in you.” I now know that no matter how unbearable our trials and tribulations may appear, we have a support system in the strength of family that will allow us to overcome it all.
People usually avoid changes, and prefer to stay in their comfort zones. But I am true believer that once you get the courage and take the first step to change, your life will become much better.
I heard about the TechWomen program in 2018 on Facebook, and I was so impressed by the Emerging Leaders from Tajikistan. I wanted to apply for 2019 but missed the deadline, so I aimed to apply for the 2020 program. Applying for the program allowed me to look back, evaluate my actions and reflect on how I’ve affected other people’s lives in both good and bad ways. The application awakened me once again to how everything is linked in this world, and everything happens for a reason. TechWomen is a tremendous opportunity for me and for every woman no matter her age, race religion, beliefs and social status around the world to develop our professional experience. I am one of the luckiest women from Tajikistan.
I believe that professional exchanges are very important, as they are an opportunity to see the world, to learn from other women and change my ideas and thoughts in my field of interest — green and clean technology. I believe that my exchange experience will make me more flexible, less afraid to make mistakes and will encourage me to look at certain things from a different perspective.
My professional exchange experience with TechWomen program is turning a page. It is about closing one chapter and opening another one, bringing new beginnings and excitement to life. In turn, I will apply my learnings in my everyday life, sharing them with family, friends and my field.