President of the United Nations Association (UNA) Connecticut, Dr. Joseph Baxer, inspired everyone when he talked about his experiences from Uzbekistan at UN House Scotland last Friday.
Dr. Baxer was passing by Edinburgh on his way back to the US from, Uzbekistan, a Central Asian country. He offered to give a presentation about his experiences at an UNA Edinburgh meeting, which was held at UN House Scotland.
A diverse crowd listened to Dr. Baxer’s fascinating trip to Uzbekistan. In addition to UNA Edinburgh members, a representative from UNA Westminster as well as UN House Scotland interns came to learn more about a country which does not normally receive much attention from the international community.
The UNA Connecticut President held a one-hour talk in which he enlightened the attendees about Uzbekistan’s history, religion, culture as well as about the UN presence in the country. He also brought several books which were passed around that helped the attendees to catch a glimpse of life in the Central Asian nation. The representatives of the other UNA branches and the UN House Scotland interns were eager to learn more about Uzbekistan and posed some interesting questions to Dr. Baxer during the talk.
Dr. Baxer spoke positively about the cooperation between 17 UN Agencies and grassroots organisations in Uzbekistan. Some of the work that has been done has been opening various women’s centres to allow women to easier report sexual assault and domestic violence. This is an important development as Uzbekistan is still a very patriarchal society. Nevertheless, Dr. Baxer mentioned that women he met during his time in the country were very entrepreneurial and independent minded.
The UNA Connecticut President highlighted that Uzbekistan is a fairly secular society, with Islam being practiced much more privately than it is politically. However, there has been a change recently in terms of religious freedom after the new President, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, took office in 2016. He succeeded Islam Karimov, who was Uzbekistan’s President since it became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. Dr. Baxer mentioned that Mr Karimov imposed a strong secular regime in the country.
Several attendees at the event admitted that they did not know much about Uzbekistan before Dr. Baxer’s talk. However, after hearing about the fascinating experiences of the American, everyone was left with an impression of a friendly, colourful and vibrant society. A few people even mentioned that they became very interested in visiting Uzbekistan after hearing the talk.
The President of UNA Connecticut emphasised that building bridges between different societies was one of the most important aspects of his visit to Uzbekistan. By inspiring several people to travel to the country and gathering different UNA branches from the UK and the US at this meeting, he very much achieved this during his brief visit to UN House Scotland as well!