Women's rights issues in Kazakhstan in its complience with the modern international law standards

The end of the 20th century is governed by one of the brightest historical events – final collapse of the Soviet Union. In that way, in 1991 Kazakhstan gains its statehood, becomes the fully legitimate subject of the international law. The problem of human right was always the point of arguments, which were held for enjoyment of rights, access amplification, which fixed the human position in society. Every stage of society development was the step on the way of gaining and expansion of individual freedom. The history shows that every generation needs again and again to protect human rights. Every generation accepts the challenge of the history connected with assertion of such great individual values as human rights and freedoms. That’s why we think that this theme is one of the specifically debatable point of issue as in domestic so in international law.

As a rule, none modern state, realizing the international relations with other states on the basis of principles of international law, can not be considered as authentically democratic and legal, if it admits whatever infringements of human rights and freedoms and doesn’t do anything for liquidation of such facts. In the field of defense of human rights and freedoms the state first of all uses internal procedures and mechanisms. Human rights are socially and economically dependent. The main thing is how this structures are developed, thereon depends the effectiveness of domestic protection of human rights and freedoms. 

“All people are born free and equal in their dignity and rights. They have sense and conscience and they must behave in respect of each other in the spirit of brotherhood”– says the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The human rights from positions of international law – these are essential rights for characteristic of person’s legal status in every modern society. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International pacts, European Convention on Human Rights and other important international legislation determined that the universal set of human rights and freedoms, which in the whole with constitutional rights obliged to provide with normal vital activity of individual. That’s why in modern conditions under the main human rights you should understand the rights contained in state constitution and international legal documents on human rights. Defense of human rights is first of all the task of national, domestic legal order. Guarantees of human rights and freedoms are clearly declared in the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The International human rights constitute an integral part of the system of modern human and civil rights and freedoms in recent period.

Recognizing the impact of war on women and the importance of their involvement in the peace process, in October 2000, the Security Council unanimously adopted a groundbreaking resolution on Women, Peace and Security. Resolution 1325 urged Member States to increase women’s representation at all decision-making levels for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict. It urged the Secretary-General to appoint more women as his special representatives and envoys, and to expand women’s role and contribution in UN field-based operations [1].

Women’s rights around the world is an important indicator to understand global well-being. A major global women’s rights treaty was ratified by the majority of the world’s nations a few decades ago. Despite many successes in empowering women, numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging from the cultural, political to the economic. For example, women often work more than men, yet are paid less; gender discrimination affects girls and women throughout their lifetime; and women and girls are often are the ones that suffer the most poverty. Many may think that women’s rights are only an issue in countries where religion is law, such as many Muslim countries. Or even worse, some may think this is no longer an issue at all. But reading this report about the United Nation’s Women’s Treaty and how an increasing number of countries are lodging reservations, will show otherwise. Democracy is a valued principle, so much so that some people have sacrificed their lives to fight for it. While no system is perfect, it seems that democracy is once again under assault. What are the challenges posed in a democratic system and are established safeguards helping to strengthen democracy or are their forces successfully weakening it?

It is often argued—and accepted—that women, being the “gentler sex”, and typically being the main care givers in society, are less aggressive than men. Feminists often argue that women, if given appropriate and full rights, could counter-balance a male-dominated world which is characterized by aggression in attitudes, thoughts, society and, ultimately, war.

The adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security (SCR1325) on 31 October 2000 was a landmark in promoting greater attention to gender perspectives in the peace and security work of the United Nations. To follow-up on the implementation of the resolution, the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) established an Inter-Agency Task Force on Women, Peace and Security in February 2001. Initially, the Task Force focused on the preparations for the Secretary-General’s 2002 study on Women, Peace and Security and the related report to the Security Council.

At the 1985 Nairobi World Conference, participants considered women's participation in the efforts for peace in decision-making positions, and in education for peace as vital to peace building. Delegates discussed strategies for women's participation in safeguarding world peace, averting nuclear catastrophe, halting the arms race, and in complete disarmament. For the first time, the various forms of violence against women in everyday life and in all societies were highlighted as major obstacles to the achievement of peace.

The Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, identified women and armed conflict as one of 12 critical areas of concern. Delegates discussed the increased participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making levels; the protection of women living in the situation of armed conflict; reduction of excessive military expenditure; and the promotion of women's contribution to fostering the culture of peace. The section on action in connection with armed conflict was further reinforced by the critical areas of concern on violence against women and the human rights of women. The Platform for Action recognized that civilian casualties outnumber military casualties, with women and children comprising a significant number of the victims, and proposed a number of strategic objectives and actions to be taken by relevant actors. It also called for the upholding and reinforcement of the norms of international humanitarian and human rights law in relation to the offences against women, and the prosecution of all those responsible for such offences.

Professor of anthropology, Richard Robbins notes: “At the same time that women produce 75 to 90 percent of food crops in the world, they are responsible for the running of households. According to the United Nations, in no country in the world do men come anywhere close to women in the amount of time spent in housework. Furthermore, despite the efforts of feminist movements, women in the core [wealthiest, Western countries] still suffer disproportionately, leading to what sociologist refer to as the “feminization of poverty,” where two out of every three poor adults are women. The informal slogan of the Decade of Women became “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production” [2].

In 2005, the Commission on the Status of Women conducted a ten-year review and appraisal of the Beijing Platform and issued a declaration reaffirming the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome document.

In addition to its role in preparing the World Conferences on Women and drafting CEDAW, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted agreed conclusions on women and armed conflict in 1998, which addressed gender-sensitive justice; the specific needs of women affected by armed conflict; the need to increase women's participation in all stages of peace processes, including conflict prevention, post-conflict resolution and reconstruction; and disarmament issues.

In 2004, the Commission revisited this theme and adopted agreed conclusions on women's equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace building. It was recognized that peace agreements provide a vehicle for the promotion of gender equality and that a gender-sensitive constitutional and legal framework was necessary to ensure that women fully participate in such processes. Finally, the allocation of necessary human, financial and material resources was seen as critical for specific and targeted activities to ensure gender equality at the local, national, regional and international levels, as well as for enhanced and increased international cooperation.

In March 2000, the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement on International Women's Day in March 2000. It recognized the link between peace and gender equality, and the fact that women's full participation in peace operations was essential to sustainable peace. It was an important precursor to resolution 1325.

A thorough review of the United Nations peace and security activities was undertaken by a high-level panel convened by the Secretary-General in 2000, which resulted in the Report of the Panel on the United Nations Peace Operations. The report recognized the need for equitable gender representation in the leadership of peacekeeping missions. The seminar on the gender perspectives of multidimensional peacekeeping missions led to the development of the Windhoek Declaration and the Namibia Plan of Action on Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in Multidimensional Peace Operations in June 2000. The Windhoek Declaration was another critical step leading to the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000). On 31 October 2000, the Security Council adopted resolution 1325 under the presidency of Namibia. This resolution was the culmination of several decades of growing realization of the diverse roles that women play both in conflict resolution and building peace and the result of active involvement and advocacy by women's organizations. The resolution has galvanized the UN system, Member States and civil society organizations and has become one of the best known and the most translated resolutions of the Security Council. Within the United Nations system, the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Women, Peace and Security of the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality has been coordinating efforts for the implementation of the resolution.

Many women face multiple forms of discrimination and increased risk of violence. Violence against women knows no boundaries. Women are traded across the world as cheap labour, catalogue brides and forced prostitutes. More than two million girls aged between five and 15 are sold as prostitutes every year.

The bodies of women and girls are being mutilated and sold because of new reproduction technologies. Prenatal determination of a baby's sex through ultrasound or Amniocenteses has led to a situation in which female foetuses are aborted one after the other in countries such as the People’s Republic of China and India in order to secure male offspring. Based on the birth statistics and the numerical relationship between men and women there should be 100 million more women alive on the earth today. In addition to this, girls are systematically neglected. They are breast fed for a shorter period, less likely to be inoculated, receive less to eat and have to work much harder. 1.5 million children die every year because they are girls. Girls and women are abused and raped on a daily basis. 75 percent of rapes are carried out by offenders that know their victims socially. Only between 10 and 30 percent of these crimes are reported to the police. 40,000 women are forced to flee their violent men to a refuge for battered women every year in Germany. The persecution of women because of their gender is not recognized for asylum purposes. Women and girls are refused the right of self-determination over their own bodies [3].

The First mentioning of the union of tribes populating the territory of Kazakhstan appeared` in ancient manuscripts dated in the middle of the first millennium BC. The largest of the tribes was collectively called Saki. The prevailing of economy frv time semi-nomadic and nomadic cattle breeding. In the early medieval period, in the VI-VII centuries AD, the Turkic Kaganate played an important role in the process of ethno-genesis. The formation of the Turkic ethnos per see took place in the III-IV cc AD in the areas of eastern Turkestan and Altay. The period of XIII to XVcc is connected with history of the Golden Horde, created by Gehngiz Khan. In the XIX- XV cc the Kazakh language was separated from the Kypchak group of Turkic languages.

In 1991 Kazakhstan declared its independence. Kazakhstan maintains a presidential form of governance. In accordance with Constitution of Republic of Kazakhstan, all citizens of our country are given equal rights regardless of gender and age. Kazakhstan has joined over 20 international human rights agreements and conventions, including the UN Convention on Political Rights of Women and on the Nationality of the Married Women. Ratification of the UN Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1998 highlighted once more the commitment of our state to further democratization of the society, implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted by the International Women’s Forum in 1995.

Under Decree N 4176 of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated December 22, 1998 for purposes of protection family interests, provision of the necessary conditions for women’s participation in political, social, economic and cultural life of the country in accordance with Subpoint 20 of Article 44 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, there was established the National Commission for Family and Women under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The National Commission for Family and Women under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (further – Commission) is a consultative body under the Head of the state. The Commission consists of 28 members. They are representatives of different spheres of our society, heads of central bodies and representatives of the regions.

The movement had faced its greatest opposition in the West because of the prevailing discussion based on a premise that norms varied from culture to culture. According to this premise, terrible human rights violations such as genital mutilation were acceptable as culture-specific characteristics. But the World Conference for Human Rights was successful in beginning a process in which women’s rights would become accepted as human rights and in which a new international standard was set. Structural oppression of women in all its forms was no longer seen as discrimination against women, but as a violation of human rights. This is a new dimension providing women with a far more effective instrument for putting pressure on governments in their fight to achieve equal rights [4].

The definition of the term “discrimination against women” as such, does not exist in the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, this term is widely used in legal practice, is used in the Constitution and other legal acts. Thus, Article 14 of the Constitution adopted on 30 August 1995 reads: 1. All are equal before law and court. 2. No one shall be subject to discrimination of any form on the basis of origin, social, property status, occupation, sex, race, nationality, language, religion, convictions, place of habitation or other circumstances.

The Criminal Code effective before 1 January 1998 contained only one article referred to preclusion of exploitation of women’s prostitution – “Keeping of Dens and Pimping” (Article 215-1). The new Criminal Code enacted on 1 January 1998 considerably mitigated the maximum punishment for this crime from 5 to 3 years (of imprisonment) (without aggravating circumstances) , simultaneously introduced several articles that were completely new for Kazakhstan legislation: recruiting people for sexual or other exploitation (article 128) with the maximum punishment up to 8 years of imprisonment involving a minor in prostitution (article 132) – up to three years of imprisonment; traffic in minors (article 133) connected with their import to Kazakhstan or export from Kazakhstan - up to ten years of imprisonment; involving in prostitution (article 270) – up to three years of imprisonment.

Disunity of the states and confrontation of various social systems are being replaced gradually with consciousness of generality of all people and necessity of the joint solving of global problems, including creation of the international system providing reliable protection of fundamental laws and freedom of the person. Creation of such system is impossible without a reliable legal basis. The similar laws, conventional legal principles and regulations should operate in all states of the world community. Certainly, in conditions of distinction of social systems, levels of economic development, national structure of the population, cultural traditions and historical features of development to achieve full concurrence of all legislative systems is impossible. However, the obligations of the states allow speaking with confidence about successful promotion of community of peoples to the uniform legal space.


  1. http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/women/peace.shtml
  2. Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), - p. 354.
  3. www.dadalos.org/focus
  4. Christa Stolle. UNESCO School’s Project, Issue 3/2002: "Frauen und Mädchen der Welt" hrsg. v. Deutsche UNESCO- Kommission e.V., Bonn.
Year: 2016
City: Almaty