Workshop “Gender and Water in Central Asia”

3 April 2008, Almaty, Kazakhstan

The seminar "Gender and water in Central Asia" was held on 3 April in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The seminar was attended by 31 people. The seminar was held somewhat unusually. Or rather the beginning of the seminar was unusual. Seminar was delayed because everybody waited for Omarbekova Aliya, the national coordinator.

Aliya was stolen for marriage from the gender seminar. All people were very glad and enjoyed in a certain sense to hear this news. The folk traditions are still taking place. Of course, it is impossible to "steal" such a modern educated girl like Aliya without her consent. And let a wedding ceremony remains in the traditional form. Let it will be an amusing game. But let us wish to all Kazakh girls to have the right to choose a partner in their lives and let them to be picked up on a horse by their beloved and cherished men. We sincerely congratulate our Aliya and wish her the everlasting happiness.

Kazakhstan is a republic where the gender legislation is developed and valid.

Policies and programs aiming to achieve the gender equality are adopted in Kazakhstan: The public policy concept on advancement of women status in the Republic of Kazakhstan (1997); The National Action Plan on the Advancement of Women Status in the Republic of Kazakhstan (1999); The gender policy concept in the Republic of Kazakhstan (2003); The gender policy concept and the Millennium Development Goals (2004); The Education Development Concept (2004); The policies for gender equality in the Republic of Kazakhstan for the period of 2006-2016 (2005).

The institutional mechanism to guarantee the gender equality was developed. But until now there is a difference: economically inactive population is 61.8% among women and 38.2% among men with the human development index is higher for women than for men; the average monthly earnings for women is 61% of earnings for men. The selective survey data of the Population Time Budget (PTB) are characterized by the inequality of the gender distribution of the timing budgets and allow drawing a conclusion about the existing gender disparities in the society:

  • The time distribution structures reflect the national stereotypes of the distribution features of genders roles in housework.
  • Women bear the main responsibility for carrying out the everyday problems. Their homework is not paid but their contribution to ensure the household functioning is more than of men.
  • The family responsibilities turn women to a less profitable labour force and do not allow them to be competitive in the labour-market like men.
  • Unpaid work reduces the leisure-time and affects the health of women. Maintenance of the subsistence farming requires unpaid work by all family members, especially by women, for the crop processing and for cooking. In the less provided households this takes more time than in the more wealthy ones, which can buy food with money.
  • Unpaid work of women in the market conditions replaces a large number of social services earlier provided by the State (care for the sick, children, etc.), which leads to the decreasing aggregate demand for services and products from poor families.
  • Differences in the gender distribution of the timing budgets underlie the differing status of men and women in the labour market and in the economic sphere.
  • Women have not only less opportunities at the labour market but they have less spare time, which can be used for investments to their human capital.

At present, the Gender and Water Movement is being developed with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank. The seminar was attended by representatives of UN and of the water organizations.