UN CEDAW: Kazakhstan should develop a plan to broaden access to all jobs for women

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UN CEDAW) believes that the Kazakhstan authorities should take measures to reduce the list of professions prohibited for women before granting them full access to all professional occupations.

The members of the UN CEDAW have formulated their questions to the authorities of Kazakhstan ahead of consideration of the country’s 5th periodic report. After stating their approval of the reduction of the list of professions prohibited for women from 287 to 219 jobs, the Committee’s experts inquired about further steps aimed at improving access of women to the professional occupations, which are currently prohibited for them. Abolishing all existing bans on women’s employment in certain areas should be considered the ultimate goal of this process.

While noting the impact of women’s work on the level of wages in Kazakhstan, UN CEDAW inquired about the measures adopted by the authorities of the country in order to eliminate occupational segregation in employment. The Committee also asked whether there was any progress in providing employment opportunities for women outside such traditional sectors as healthcare, social services and education, which were largely unpopular among men, also because of the low wages paid there.

Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” in a joint report with a group of NGOs from Kazakhstan drew attention to the discriminatory nature of the professional prohibitions for women in employment, which were only grounded by the need to protect female reproductive functions, as well as the current approach, which lead to depriving women of the right to choose the kind of professional growth, which they desire.

The Committee considers it important to overcome gender stereotypes, which reduce the role of women to housekeeping, childbirth and parenting. In practice, this leads to women’s underrepresentation in economic, political and social spheres. UN experts asked Kazakhstan to report on measures adopted to involve men in household and upbringing of children. A separate question was asked about the influence of religious leaders on the preservation of discriminatory stereotypes and involvement of state institutions in this.

Members of the UN CEDAW also discussed the need for legal amendments in order to define certain forms of discrimination, including discrimination against women and on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Problems of LBT-women were raised in the alternative report, which had been prepared by NGO “Feminita”.

In autumn of 2019, during the Committee’s 74th session, representatives of the official delegation of Kazakhstan will make their report and the experts of the Committee will issue recommendations on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.