Employment, financing of business initiatives and social benefits: what support women receive in Kazakhstan

The issues of gender equality, employment and health of women were discussed at the government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov on the eve of International Women's Day.

Minister of National Economy Alibek Kuantyrov noted that Kazakhstan has established a legal and institutional framework to ensure gender equality. At the legislative level, there are provisions for the elimination of discrimination against women and promotion of equality.

In 2015, Kazakhstan made a commitment to the implementation of 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, 12 of which are gender-sensitive. In 2022, according to the "Gender Gap Index", Kazakhstan moved up 15 positions due to successful reforms in the field of gender development and took 65th place out of 146 countries.

Today, work is continuing to increase the representation of women in the civil service, politics and the corporate sector. Thus, according to statistics, the proportion of women in the civil service in 2022 has reached more than 55% (46,500), more than 39% (9,200) of whom are in senior positions. There are 59 women in political positions, including ministers, presidents of the Agency, the Supreme Court of Audit and the Constitutional Court, and deputy regional and municipal mayors.

The share of women in small and medium-sized businesses was 44.6% in 2021. Women accounted for more than 30% of the heads of enterprises. At the same time, the Government is taking measures to gradually increase the proportion of women in the management bodies of companies with state participation by including gender targets in their development plans. Support for women's entrepreneurship through financial and non-financial measures is also increasing every year.

According to the Minister of Labor and Social Protection Tamara Duisenova, there are 4.3 million employed women in the country, which is 48% of the total employed population. 35% of women work in trade and services, 32% in education, healthcare and science, 14% in industry, construction and transport, and more than 9% in agriculture.

According to her, as part of the regional employment cards an active work was carried out to involve women in productive employment. Thus, 536 thousand women were employed, which made 55% of all employed people. In the two months of this year, this figure exceeded 92,000.

Another important measure of state support is training with subsequent employment or opening one's own business. Last year, almost 80 thousand women underwent training in the basics of entrepreneurship. As a result of the training, about 13,000 women received grants. Of these, 58% purchased technological equipment and tools necessary for the production of goods and services, and 31% were engaged in livestock breeding, having bought livestock.

The Minister also noted that last year a project "Silver Age" was launched for persons of pre-retirement age, during which more than 3 thousand people were employed, of whom 50% were women. This year the age for participation in the project was lowered from 58 to 50. The jobs are offered by employers, while the participants have the right to choose them on their own on the basis of their qualifications.

According to her, this year the measures to support motherhood and childhood will cover about 2.1 million families, who will receive 1.2 trillion tenge from the state budget and the State Social Insurance Fund (SSIF). In particular, social payments for pregnancy and childbirth will be received by more than 258 thousand women.

In addition, in her speech the Minister told about increase of lump sum benefits for childbirth and support for mothers with many children.

Minister of Healthcare  Azhar Giniyat reported on measures to ensure the health of women, Vice Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry Askhat Orazbek reported on new digital solutions designed specifically for women, Chairman of the Board of JSC "Entrepreneurship Development Fund" Damu "Gauhar Buribayeva.

In his speech, the Prime Minister noted that in many countries women are faced with gender barriers. Thus, according to the data of the World Economic Forum in 2022, it will take as long as 132 years to eliminate the gender gap. Kazakhstan, in turn, improved its position in the Global Gender Gap Index, rising 15 points.

"In our country, women equally participate in public administration, are active in public life, and implement business projects. According to the OECD, the proportion of women business owners in Kazakhstan is 45%. This is higher than in countries such as the U.S. and Turkey," said Alikhan Smailov.

He added that Kazakhstani women implemented nearly half of the projects supported by the Damu Fund. One-third of the projects received women from rural areas. 

However, according to him, the protection of motherhood and childhood, support for women entrepreneurs, assistance to mothers with many children, foster families, assistance in employment of women, care for the older generation remain important directions of state policy.

Thus, since the beginning of this year the period of childcare allowance payment was increased from one year to one and a half years in the republic. In addition, the Social Code introduces Awarded Mothers new concept.

"This status, as a tribute to and recognition of the merits of a mother with many children, will be assigned to women who have been awarded the pendants "Kumis alka", "Altyn alka", previously received the title of "Mother Heroine", awarded the orders "Maternal Glory". The amount of benefits for award-winning mothers will be differentiated and increased. This change will affect about 90 thousand mothers," Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister also stressed the importance of improving the material and technical condition of obstetric institutions, many of which today do not meet modern requirements.

"It is necessary to take into account the modernization of infrastructure of perinatal centers in the draft Concept of maternal and child welfare. The Health Ministry also needs to speed up solving the issue of repairing and equipping the Scientific Center of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology in Almaty," Alikhan Smailov pointed out. 

He underlined that Akimats should more actively involve women in productive employment within the framework of the relevant regional maps, and the Ministry of Labor should coordinate and monitor the implementation of this direction.

"It is also necessary to strengthen the work on expanding the financing of projects of women entrepreneurs, involving them in more capital-intensive projects, for example, in the manufacturing industry. The Ministry of Information should be involved in this to carry out a broad explanatory work," the Prime Minister concluded.

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