Nur-Sultan – In marking International Women's Day with the people of Kazakhstan we highlight the achievements of the women and men across society engaged in efforts to ensure respect for women’s rights, women’s dignity and to achieve equality. The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, which appreciates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world and in Kazakhstan in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women stand at the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burden that women carry.
The COVID-19 response has also highlighted the power and effectiveness of women’s leadership in civil society. Women’s organizations have filled crucial gaps in providing critical services and information, especially at the community level.
This year’s International Women’s Day will highlight the pressing need for the forthcoming 2021 Generation Equality Forum, which will be a major opportunity to cement women’s rights and leadership as we recover from COVID-19.
Pandemic recovery is our chance to chart a new and equal path by ensuring equal representation, investing significantly in the care economy and social protection, removing barriers to women’s full inclusion in the economy, repealing all discriminatory laws in all sectors, designing an emergency response plan to address violence against women and girls, promoting family-friendly policies and, most importantly, shifting mindsets.
We welcome the efforts of the Republic of Kazakhstan towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in line with Sustainable Development Goals: increasing women’s representation in the management of companies with state participation and introduction of gender and youth quotas for the list of candidates to the Mazhilis (parliament) and Maslikhats (municipal assemblies). Kazakhstan is taking a pro-active role in the Generation Equality Forum through plans to be participants of two Action Coalitions on Gender Based Violence and Economic Justice and Rights.
While recognizing this progress, we are also cognizant of obstacles women continue to face. To uphold women’s rights and fully leverage the potential of women’s leadership in pandemic preparedness and response, the perspectives of women and girls in all of their diversity must be integrated in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes in all spheres and at all stages of pandemic response and recovery.
We have seen excellent examples of women in Kazakhstan advocating on difficult topics to promote constructive social changes; we have seen numerous women and girls leading their ways in science, business, education, art and many other important areas. Kazakhstan has experiences, and so the challenges can be addressed, and vision of gender equality can be more fully realized if Kazakhstan mobilizes every part and knowledge of its society.
While it is important to promote and adopt policies that ensure women’s equal participation in all areas of political, social and economic life, it is equally important to acknowledge that gender-related social norms are still a barrier to the full realization of women’s potential. Having a more equal distribution of household work between women and men, including the work relating to caregiving such as childcare and care for older people, can go a long way towards building a fairer society where women can enjoy equal rights and opportunities.
The world needs a new push to advance women’s leadership and equal participation. And it is clear that such action will benefit all of us. We strongly encourage young women and men, girls and boys who are on the frontlines of this galvanizing moment contributing to all changes for us to live in a fairer world. The UN system in Kazakhstan continues to stand ready to provide every possible assistance to Kazakhstan in this regard, to ensure that no one is left behind.