Kazakhstan, while still in its democratic infancy, continues to make significant strides towards gender equality. The Kazakhstan government recently hosted the First Congress of Kazakh Women. During this session, President Nursultan Nazarbayev and other dignitaries, not only acknowledged the contributions of Kazakhstan’s women in establishing and strengthening their country’s independence, but recommitted to providing more services to women and children, more access to political participation, and increased opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
Since the establishment of a Kazakhstan Democracy in 1991, women have played an active role in the economy. Last year, women accounted for 40 percent of Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product. This success for women in Kazakhstan is due in no small part to the government’s establishment of schools and day care centers. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Kazakhstan government opened 35 new daycare centers and more than 137 schools in 2010 alone. This allowed more women the opportunity to enter the workforce.
Two government initiatives continue to provide a beacon for women’s rights in Kazakhstan. The first is a micro credit program for entrepreneurial women that runs from 2009 through 2015 and gives women access to startup money. The second program seeks to get women more involved in the political process at all levels of government. The Gender Equality Strategy aims to achieve a 30 percent ratio of women to men as heads of government bodies and political organizations by the year 2016.
Women entrepreneurs are on the rise in Kazakhstan and with continued government and international support, their numbers will continue to rise. With their increased access and participation in the political process, their contributions to the economy will also increase