Transformation Through Debate: Nadira Masiumova’s Success Story

Nadira Masiumova (23) is an active member of civil society in Kyrgyzstan. She does advocacy for Kyrgyz Indigo, a local LGBTIQ organization based in Bishek that aims to build a democratic society where everyone – including LGBTIQ people - can enjoy their freedoms. Nadira attributes her success in this field to her experience in debating.  

“Debate helped me immensely to broaden my worldview and to re-evaluate my value system. While debating, I would sometimes have to defend a position that I did not believe in and this made me sensitive of other people’s perspectives. I started questioning the values and principles that had been imposed on me by society and are considered conventional wisdom. Overall, debate associations have affected me greatly. When debating certain topics and issues, we contemplate shortcomings in our society. This practice has affected me strongly and helps me in my current job. When I say debate associations, I mean all those, including debaters, tournament organizers, and, of course, IDEA CA, who help debaters in their personal and professional development,” said Nadira.

Nadira believes that debate taught her public speaking, argumentation and cooperation skills and gave her self-confidence.

She is an alumna of IDEA CA projects that use a wide range of extracurricular activities to develop critical thinking among youth. Namely, she participated in the media camp 2016 and the International Aitmatov Debate Academy (IADA) organized by IDEA CA.

“I can say that IDEA СA contributed to my interest in civil society. IADA and the media camp were my first international experience. Although they were both held in Kyrgyzstan, they brought together participant from different countries. We were able to exchange views. It was a great experience,” said Nadira.

 Nadira also worked as a trainer for a school project organized by IDEA CA for one and half years before joining Kyrgyz Indigo.

I think it is wonderful that IDEA CA has projects in schools, especially those in the regions and outskirts of Biskhek. Youngsters in our society do not often have the opportunity to defend themselves or speak their mind. The mentality in our society is such that if you are not an adult male, you are nobody. Kids are often bullied by their teachers and even by their family members. When we tell youngsters that they have the right to speak, that we are ready to listen to them, we give them the opportunity to contemplate what they want to do with their lives. Giving them a voice gives them power. I think if debate was more widespread in our country, we would have more people who analyze things based on critical thinking as opposed to people who merely follow the crowd and are susceptible to propaganda.”

Nadira graduated from the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, where she studied journalism.

Author: Aisha Jabbarova, intern at IDEA CA