Turkmenistan Restricts Women From Obtaining Driving Licenses


It is becoming more and more difficult for women to drive in Turkmenistan, with requirements for obtaining a driver’s license often oppressively strict.

Turkmenistan has restricted women’s rights for many years, including their freedom to drive a car. In 2017 Turkmen police began revoking women’s driving licenses and refusing to issue them with new ones. From the beginning of 2023 women had to be over the age of 41 to learn to drive, and even then driving schools would only accept them if they provided marriage certificates and character references.

It is reported that in the country’s Mary region it is now almost impossible for women to drive a car. Women who already have a license can only renew it when it expires if they have a vehicle registered in their name.

“Often, the cars driven by women are not registered in their name, and they use vehicles registered in the name of their brothers or husbands by power of attorney. Now they have to transfer the cars to their name or buy a new car to get a driver’s license; otherwise, they will not be issued a new document,” Radio Azatlyk wrote. According to local sources, police officers are refusing to issue licenses to women under the age of 35.

One resident added: “You also need a medical certificate from a psychiatric dispensary to renew your license. They are obtained in local medical institutions. The cost of renewing a driver’s license will cost 200 to 400 manats ($57-$114).

Mary residents said using a bribe is the easiest way to solve the problem. “Men can get a driver’s license by paying a bribe of 4,000 manat ($1141), while a woman will have to pay 6,000 to 7,000 manat ($1712 to $1997),” the resident said.

Turkmen officials deny any discrimination against women, and maintain that gender equality is fully respected in the country.