Kazakhstan strongly supports equal opportunities for women and considers gender equality not only a human right, but also an economic right. Women now contribute 40 percent of Kazakhstan’s GDP, and account for 52 percent of those engaged in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Women also make up 66 percent of individual entrepreneurs.
The 2011 Enterprise Survey’s country note on Kazakhstan says women were owners or part-owners of 34.4 percent of the country’s businesses and 28 percent of manufacturing companies held women ownership. The UNDP Country Programme Document for 2016-2020, a document drafted in partnership with the Government of Kazakhstan and the National Commission for Women Affairs, Family and Demographic Policy, focuses on more targeted support to women entrepreneurs, and to women who are at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
March 8 International Women’s Day is a National Holiday in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is ranked #56 in the United Nations Gender Inequality Index and is #43 (out of 142 countries) in gender equality by the World Economic Forum 2014.
20 percent of Kazakhstan’s parliamentary ministers are women. In the 2015 ranking compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Kazakhstan ranks 47th (on a par with France) by percentage of women in national parliaments. Just for the sake of comparison, the United States comes at 76th, after Kenya and Saudi Arabia.
Almost 34 percent of Kazakhstan’s foreign service officers are women and 21 of them occupy senior executive diplomatic positions. Akmaral Arystanbekova served as Kazakhstan’s first permanent representative to the United Nations from 1992-1999 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1989-1991.