Maria Paniagua: I find women in Kyrgyzstan very strong and smart

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Kyrgyzstan has been celebrating the Mother's Day since 2012 by the decree of President of the country Almazbek Atambayev.

On this occasion Kabar News Agency publishes an exclusive interview with Maria Paniagua, Asian Development Bank Senior Portfolio Management Specialist.

- Kabar News Agency congratulates you on the Mother's Day. What is Mother's Day for you?

It is an occasion to bring together the family and show you care. But I think that you do not understand how much your parents love you and how much they have given you until you have your first child. Your mother is there for you every day of every year, so in a way, every day should be mother’s day! Unfortunately for me, my parents had passed away before I had my first child and I feel I never told them how important they were for me, as care takers, as role models as friends once I was an adult.

- How many children do you have?

I have two kids, they are still young, they boy is seven and the girl is three and they go to school here. They have adapted really fast and love the change in seasons, go to Erkindik park to play, buy kurut as a snack. Our girl goes to a local kindergarten so she is fluent in Russian and Manuel goes to an English speaking school but he is very eager to learn. He always asks if he can go to buy bread and milk to practice his Russian.

- When and how do people in Spain celebrate Mother's Day?

In Spain, we celebrate Mother’s day the first Sunday of May. Each family celebrates it in a different way, but normally the husband and children arrange to go out or they cook for their mom. You normally also buy her flowers or a small present. When I was little, I have great memories of fixing breakfast for my mother and bringing it to her to bed and cleaning the kitchen for her. Reversing the roles, even if it is just one day helps you to realize how much she cares and all the efforts that go into caring for a family.

- What are the obstacles for working mothers?

I think lack of time is the greatest obstacle for mothers. It is difficult to work full time and at the same time manage a home and spend time with your children. In my case, I did not become a mom until I was in my late 30s so I could travel and work very long hours without feeling terribly guilty. But mothers that work outside of home face a very difficult choice, to spend more time with the family or focus on her career. I am very lucky because my husband and I share the responsibility of taking care of our two children. We enjoy very much seeing them grow, discover new things, learn to make their own choices.

- What is the role of working women in today's society?

I think today women should be free to choose what their role in society is. There are women who may not want to become mothers, others who would like to have a career and have a family, and those who would like to focus on raising a family and work at home. They all add value to society and play a very important role. Society sometimes does not recognize that even if women do not get a salary, they work very hard taking care of children, cooking, tending their gardens, helping their parents in old age. So for me what is important is to give girls the chance to study and allow them to choose freely how they want to contribute to society, without pressure from their families or society about what should be their role.

- How do you find working mothers in Kyrgyzstan?

I find women in Kyrgyzstan very strong and smart. The women I work with are managing their jobs, their family and for what I understand, because of cultural traditions, they also take on most of the work related to housework and the children. This is very challenging and although they do an excellent job at everything, means that they are under more stress. Also, I notice here fashion is very important and working mothers even find the time and energy to look great.

- Thank you for your time and happy Mother's Day!

Nurzhan Kasmalieva

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