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On Women's Shoulders

While men work abroad, Tajik women pick up the slack

In poverty-stricken Tajikistan, job opportunities are scarce. Thousands of Tajik men leave their homeland for Russia, where they can find work to support their families. 

The Alauddin lakes in Tajikistan
The mountain pastures near the Alauddin lakes is where herders spend months isolated from the outside world, tending to their cows.

In the Khamroev family, men work on a construction site in Russia, while the women and children stay in a small village at the foot of the picturesque Fann Mountains. With the men spending most of the year abroad, the women run the household with the matriarch, Bibi Khamroeva, at the helm. 

Tajik women
Bibi Khamroeva (centre) has been left in charge of the extended family, while her sons are away earning money.

Herding the cows on the mountain slopes, rebuilding their flimsy dwellings after landslides, making dairy products for the winter, and other household chores fall on the shoulders of these tough-as-nails women. 

Tajik family
All the family members get together for tea at lunchtime in a sacred family tradition.

An RTD crew travels to Tajikistan to see how they cope on their own. We also meet the men compelled to work abroad and leave their hearts with their families and their simple pastoral lives.