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On the Road to Equality

“Panorama Shymkenta”, 24/10/2002
E. Berdigalieva

On the Road to Equality

   A training seminar was held on October 21-23 at school number 41. The event was organized by the NGO “Sana Sezim”, with the support of the Commission for the Development of Democracy at the U.S. Embassy.
   The goal of the seminar, according to its coordinator Hadicha Abysheva, was to raise awareness among women in SKO about their rights and their opportunities for equal participation in public life. Participants were given booklets on the theme: “Women's Rights in Kazakhstan”, “Sexual and reproductive rights”. The booklets provided information on Kazakhstani and international mechanisms that guarantee women their rights.
   The most important international mechanism is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Kazakhstan ratified the convention in August 1998 through Article 141 (1) CC RC. It says that the direct or indirect restriction of rights and freedoms of an individual (citizen) on the grounds of sex.... or any other circumstances is a crime. During the seminar it was discussed that despite the laws, each year, women suffer abuse from their husbands and sexual partners. Oriental women, in particular, are discriminated against because of their husbands’ mentality, patriarchal views, and stagnant family customs.
   “Many women are financially dependent on a man, so they are forced to endure this discrimination. They are mostly housewives, working at home with the children. They are far removed from public life, not to mention politics. Before we conducted the seminar we did surveys among all segments of the population, trying to find out what represented them. We selected those most interested, trying to change their lifestyle,” says H. Abysheva. The seminar was attended by students, psychologists, doctors, housewives. Together with the trainers, they discussed the situation of women in the family, women's rights in the workplace, educational methods to prevent and resolve conflicts, and women's rights in the context of human rights. The topic of feminism was also touched upon during the seminar.
   This training seminar was only part of the project aimed at promoting democracy through educating women about their rights. It is thought that the workshop participants will continue to contribute to the advancement of a socially active and positive attitude towards the future of women.