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Meeting of the SPECA Working Group

29.10.2020

Gender-sensitive policies
Meeting of the SPECA Working Group

On October 27, 2020, the annual meeting of the SPECA Working Group (UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia) on gender and Sustainable Development Goals was held on the theme: "Gender-sensitive policies for achieving SDG 5 in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: Critical and key emerging issues in the SPECA region". The meeting was attended by Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of Economic Research Institute JSC, Shakharbanu Zhakupova and Director of the Secretariat for Sustainable Development Goals Bakhytgul Khambar.

The Annual Event involves countries such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, as well as international organizations: ESCAP, UNECE, UN Women, etc.

Shakharbanu Zhakupova, representing Kazakhstan, spoke about the measures taken in the country to ensure gender equality and noted the basic principles of gender policy established by the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 
According to her, Kazakhstan was one of the first among the countries of the Post-Soviet Space to adopt a number of important documents that formed a platform for the development of gender equality:
  • 1995 - Beijing platform for action was signed 
  • Since 1998, the National Commission for Women Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy has been operating, which acts as an advisory body under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
  • 1998 - The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was ratified 
  • 2001 - Optional Protocol to CEDAW was signed
  • 2005 - Gender Equality Strategy in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2006-2016 was approved 
  • In 2009, the country adopted Gender-Oriented Laws "On State Guarantees of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women" and "Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence". 
  • 20015 - joined the UN SDGs, where 12 of the 17 goals are gender-sensitive
  • In 2016, the Concept of Family and Gender Policy of Kazakhstan until 2030 was approved, which outlines the goals, objectives, main directions and target indicators of gender policy.
  • In order to create conditions for the growth of women's initiative in business and increase the number of entrepreneurs, the Council of Business Women was established under the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs "Atameken".
Kazakhstan has made significant progress in shaping the institutional framework for gender equality. 

In 2019 compared to 2009, the birth rate among adolescents decreased by 20,0%, the maternal mortality rate has decreased 2.7 times. 

In addition, the ratio of women's salaries relative to men's increased from 66% in 2009 to 68% in 2019.

There are positive results in the participation of women in the social and political life of Kazakhstan. The percentage of women in the public service is 55.7 %. At the end of 2019, the share of women in Parliament was 27.4 %, i.e. an increase of 2.6 times compared to 2006. The share of women in local executive bodies - 22.2 %.

It should be noted that the participation of women in research and development is quite high, which is 52%. 

According to WEF estimates, the level of gender gaps in education and health care in Kazakhstan is minimal.

The number of women entrepreneurs is growing from year to year. Today, the share of women among individual entrepreneurs is 52.2 %. According to data as of January 1, 2020, women entrepreneurs provide 1,066.8 thousand jobs or 31.4% of all jobs in the SME sector of Kazakhstan.











The main and traditional activities for women entrepreneurs are:
  • Education – 68.4 % of the total number of SMEs;
  • Accommodation and food services - 64 %;
  • Household activity - 64 %;
  • Real estate transactions – 24.2 %;
  • Wholesale and retail trade – 55.2 %;
  • Health and social services – 53.9 %;
  • Agriculture – 24.2 %;
  • Manufacturing industry - 37.5 %;
  • Financial and insurance services – 43 %.
In general, Kazakhstan's labor market is characterized by high female employment and low unemployment. If the unemployment rate for women in 2009 was 7.5%, then in 2019 it was 5.3%. Women make up 48.3 % of the total employed population.

The Government of Kazakhstan continues to take measures to increase women's participation in the economy by creating equal access to the labor market, educational, medical, financial and other resources. 

As part of the Business Roadmap, 16,301 projects of private entrepreneurs were subsidized, of which 32.1% were projects of women's businesses. This Program provides state grants for the implementation of new business ideas in priority sectors of the economy. Existing entrepreneurs, Kazakhstanis wishing to start their own business, including women, persons with disabilities and people over 50, can participate in competitions for grants.

Since 2012, as of the first half of 2020, 125,000 women entrepreneurs have been covered by service support. 

In addition, a number of support measures are provided for by the State Program for the Development of Productive Employment and Mass Entrepreneurship "Enbek" for 2017-2021. Since 2017, 13,217 micro-loans have been issued to women entrepreneurs in rural localities and small towns, which is 31.3% of the total number of loans issued. 

Also in Kazakhstan, a large financial and non-financial state support is provided through the Damu Fund. 

As of the first half of 2020, the Damu Fund financed 58.2% of women - individual entrepreneurs. The average loan amount was KZT 9.32 million, and 931 new jobs were created.

In addition, the Fund supports women entrepreneurs with disabilities under the Damu - Komek Program. 

In order to develop women's entrepreneurship, we can note the work of international institutions, such as the UN structures, the Asian Development Bank (hereinafter - ADB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (hereinafter – EBRD), which implement loan financing programs. For example, the EBRD runs the Women in Business program to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises headed by women.

Thus, state support measures serve as a mechanism for improving the qualification level of women entrepreneurs and their involvement in programs for financial and non-financial support of small and medium-sized businesses.

Speaking about the further implementation of gender policy in Kazakhstan, Zhakupova noted the initiatives that will be adopted in the near future:
  • improvement of legal regulations to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls;
  • taking measures to increase gender sensitivity at all levels in the implementation of socio-economic policies;
  • integration of gender approaches in the system of state and budget planning;
  • introduction of gender-based budgeting in the system of strategic state planning, aimed at ensuring equal rights and opportunities for men and women;
  • ensuring equal access of men and women to all types of resources necessary for business activities.
It should be noted that during the meeting the chairperson of the SPECA Working Group on Gender and SDGs was elected: Sadagat Gahramanova, Deputy Chairperson of the State Committee on Family, Women and Children Issues of Azerbaijan.

Following the meeting, participants shared information on progress made and challenges encountered in implementing SDG 5 on gender equality and discussed further strategies to address key emerging challenges to promote gender equality, including the full economic and political empowerment of women in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For reference: The Beijing Declaration and Platform for action (1995) remains by far the most comprehensive and progressive plan for achieving gender equality.  The Agenda for Sustainable Development for the period until 2030 reinforces its goals  through the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 5, which aims  to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

At the 13th session of the SPECA Governing Council, held on September 21, 2018 in Almaty (Kazakhstan), the UN Special Program for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) countries  reaffirmed their commitment to the Program as a platform for developing sub-regional cooperation in the SPECA region and achieving the SDGs. 

The main objective of the meeting of the SPECA Working Group on Gender and the SDGs is to provide a platform for policy dialogue, capacity building and networking among government stakeholders from relevant key ministries and agencies of SPECA countries to discuss gender-responsive strategies that are critical to achieving gender equality, SDG 5 and related SDGs on poverty reduction and economic growth, to support the implementation of the Agenda for Sustainable Development for the period until 2030.



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