Forum discusses Kazakhstan’s new gender action plan

ASTANA (TCA) — Kazakhstan is taking a new step towards the equality of opportunity for women and men with a new national strategic approach: the “Concept for Family and Gender Policy in Kazakhstan until 2030”. The new approach and a coordinating action plan was discussed in Astana on 10 February at the national forum “Empowerment of women in the corporate sector”. The secretary of state, government ministers, representatives of international organisations, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and entrepreneurs discussed ways of enhancing women’s economic opportunities and realising women’s potential at work, EBRD’s press office reported.

Janet Heckman, who has served as EBRD Director for Kazakhstan for the last four years, said: “The government and businesses in Kazakhstan agree with us that a modern economy is impossible without fully utilising the talent and potential of both men and women. I am delighted that the EBRD’s Women in Business programme of financing and advice has government support as part of our innovative Enhanced Partnership Framework Arrangement.”

Kazakhstan joined the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, which set out targets for equal rights and opportunities for both women and men. The new strategic approach will tie in the country’s existing programmes and international sustainable development trends. The approach, signed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev late last year, commits the government by November 2018 to improve the legislation in the field of family and gender policy. Removing obstacles for female employment and career growth is one of the goals of the new action plan.

Michaela Bergman, EBRD Chief Social Counsellor, said: “The new approach was created and developed by the Kazakh authorities in very close coordination and with the support of the EBRD and UNDP. I am proud to see the role the Bank’s experience has played in the process of the country’s national gender planning so as to strengthen and improve women’s access to economic opportunities.”

Despite full gender equality guaranteed by the country’s constitution, there are still hundreds of jobs prohibited for women in Kazakhstan, especially in the highly paid heavy industries where modern technologies have already levelled the playing field.

According to the latest EBRD Life in Transition Survey, the majority of Kazakhstanis still think that household duties are a woman’s responsibility even if her husband isn’t working. However, Kazakhstan’s citizens believe in women’s business potential and want their daughters to be educated more than the transition region average.

Sergey Kwan