The Zulfiya State award is a very prestigious award which is granted to talented girls every year on the occasion of the International Women’s Day. People mistakenly believe that the award is granted to those who are engaged in the field of literature or art. However, the Zulfiya Award is granted not only to girls in those fields, but also to those with high intellectual capacity, special academic, social achievements, and those who exhibit excellence in the area of education, science, sports, culture, and social life. Up until last year, it used to be given to one girl from each region of Uzbekistan, the Republic of Karakalpakstan and the city of Tashkent – the number which would overall make up 14 girls. However, from last year on, according to the presidential decree, the number of laureates doubled to 28 (2 from each territory).
This year over 4,200 girls participated in the initial selection process. The process starts in October and consists of five stages, including the university level, district, city, and Republican levels. Each level requires the candidates to present their portfolio consisting of their achievements, to make an oral presentation, and to undergo a Q&A session on which the candidates are assessed. In the end, as a final stage, a special Commission considers the achievement records and granted scores of the top candidates and recommends the profile of the best 28 girls overall for the approval by the President of Uzbekistan. The final decision is announced at the beginning of March.
The President of Uzbekistan personally awards the medal to the laureates of the Zulfiya Award during the event which is specifically organized each year for the celebration of the International Women’s Day. The laureates of Zulfiya, in addition to the gold medal with the image of Zulfiya on it, receive a money award, an award certificate, and special presents from the President of Uzbekistan. Moreover, this award grants the laureates with the opportunity to enroll at any public university without undergoing examination and on the basis of full scholarship.
This year, 24 girls were selected from Tashkent city and after the interviews and final selection process, the award was granted to me – Nigorakhonim Umarova from the Mirabad district in the field of education (specifically law) and to a girl from Olmazor district in the field of art. Shavkat Mirziyoyev personally congratulated us and granted the medal. The President called all the laureates leaders and role models for girls and encouraged us to inspire others as well on the way of attaining big achievements.
Written by Nigorakhonim Umarova, 2017-2018 Global UGRAD student from Uzbekistan at University of Tennessee, Knoxville