UN CEDAW calls on Kyrgyz and Kazakh authorities to abolish discriminatory lists of professions prohibited for women

United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UN CEDAW) adopted recommendations to Kazakhstan and formed a list of issues for the Kyrgyzstan authorities during the Committee’s 74th session and 76th pre-session.

After analyzing the situation with gender equality in employment in Kazakhstan, UN CEDAW experts noted the following problems: a significant gap in the remuneration between men and women (34%), horizontal and vertical segregation in the labor market, which was further complicated by the existing prohibition for employment of women in 191 professional occupations, concentration of women in traditional and low-paid sectors of the economy and the existence of the so-called “glass ceiling”, which didn’t allow women to occupy leadership positions. The UN CEDAW recommended not only to cancel the list of professions prohibited for women, as had been called for in the joint report prepared by the Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) “Memorial” and a group of NGOs from Kazakhstan, but also to ensure effective access to these jobs for women.

While noting the difficult situation of migrants, members of the Committee recommended ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, as well as expanding the employment and training opportunities for women, including representatives of vulnerable groups. Earlier, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights drew attention of the national authorities to the need to eliminate the discriminatory gender approach in the field of employment and pointed out the many difficulties faced by migrant women in Kazakhstan.


Having examined the official state report on the situation of women in Kyrgyzstan, UN CEDAW members raised similar questions, asking the national authorities to provide information on the adopted measures in order to cancel the list of professions prohibited for women that excluded the latter from a number of employment spheres and violated the principle of gender equality in the labor market.

Noting the problems of frequent occupation of women with unpaid domestic work and work in the informal economy, the UN CEDAW requested information on measures adopted in order to change this situation and eliminate occupational segregation in the labor market. Given the small number of girls and women who receive education for “atypical” professions, the Committee members were eager to learn about the measures adopted with the aim of increasing women’s interest in the “non-traditional” fields of study and career, as well as actions aimed at overcoming the expulsion of girls from educational institutions due to early marriages and pregnancy. Before moving to the next stage of the state’s implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Committee’s experts expect information on measures taken by the national authorities to implement development strategies and plans regarding gender equality, steps taken to develop comprehensive strategies to eradicate discriminatory social norms and stereotypes associated with the roles and responsibilities of women and men in family and society.

After considering and noting the problems of sexual and reproductive health of women and girls, the Committee’s experts asked about measures taken to improve the situation, including access to inexpensive modern methods of contraception and family planning services. In its alternative report, ADC “Memorial” and the Kyrgyz Family Planning Alliance drew attention to the negative impact of migration on women, including the situation in healthcare. This information, which was provided to the Committee, was further reflected in the list of UN CEDAW’s issues regarding access of representatives of vulnerable categories to healthcare services and the prospects of adopting comprehensive national programs for migrant women.

UN CEDAW noted the particular importance of addressing the issue of early and forced marriages, as well as combating the deeply rooted, harmful tradition of bride kidnapping, which was often endorsed by society, especially in rural areas.

UN CEDAW experts urged both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to protect women and girls from various forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).