Mother-women in modern Kazakhstan and her participation in national revival of the state

In this article, the author issues the implementation of motherhood by young Kazakh women with 3–4 children in modern Kazakh society. The author questions the importance of ethnicity, family income, education and state ideology. In most post-Soviet states, the socio-political and economic reforms of the 1990s have been accompanied to varying degrees by major changes in the official ideology of the family and family politics. Kazakhstan has not become the exception in this case. In the mass media, in political and academic discussions, even in the documents of the women's movement, the increasing social importance of traditional female roles of wife and mother, the return to man of economic responsibility for the provision of the family, the important role of the «traditionally strong» family in the processes of consolidation and revival of the nation are stressed. Women play a special role in these processes when they influence the formation of the ethnic identity of children, which is formed through the process of socialization, the learning of the values and norms of the culture in which the child is born. Women act as frontiers of the nation through performing the biological role of the mother, and, at the same time, in the cultural role of the mother. The biological role is understood as a reproductive role of the woman, female mother, under cultural — her role as agent of traditions transfer and standard examples of behavior. In order to create a gender-sensitive analytical model of «production» and «reproduction» of collective identity in Kazakh society, there is applied the concept of women's roles in the national projects of the Israeli researcher Yuval-Devis N. The main thesis of this article is the assumption that young Kazakh women design and reproduce the collective identity of the ethnic community through the birth of a large number of children and thus indirectly participate in the national revival of independent Kazakhstan.


In modern Kazakh society, politicians, experts and residents regularly discuss the issue of fertility, the necessary number of children in the family, the importance of increasing the number of citizens, the large size of the State and the small territory of the Republic. If we turn to the official discourse, according to the Law «On National Security of the Republic of Kazakhstan, «... one of the main threats to national security is the deterioration of the demographic situation and health of the population, including a sharp decrease in fertility, an increase in mortality. In this regard, sustainable demographic processes are one of the key development priorities of the country» [1]. In December 1997, the Agency for Migration and Demography of the Republic of Kazakhstan was formed, a central executive body not part of the Government and operating until October 2004. Its key mission was to develop and implement state demographic and migration policies that ensure population growth. In 1998, the National Commission for Family and Women Affairs was established under the President of Kazakhstan as an advisory and advisory body (now the National Commission for Women's Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy). One of its main tasks is to help improve the demographic situation in the country. In the Strategy «Kazakhstan — 2050: a new political course of the state» by the Head of State Nazarbayev N.A. were claimed 10 global challenges of the XXI century, which should be taken into account for further successful development. One such challenge is the global demographic imbalance [2]. Consequently, issues of demographic development of Kazakhstan are very important for the state and its management apparatus. In official documents and reports we see that «… the country's demographic policy should aim at achieving a demographic optimum. It implies a population replacement regime in which the demographic situation is in a relatively balanced state. The demographic optimum includes the optimal intensity of fertility and mortality processes, as well as the reproduction of demographic structures and migration of the population... Thanks to demographic policy, Kazakhstan has achieved some success. The State has been able to prevent the process of depopulation of the population and the demographic crisis. Since 2000, the country has seen a steady increase in fertility, natural growth and life expectancy» [3].

Experts, when discussing the demographic situation in modern Kazakhstan, usually demonize the problem: …in the 1990s XX century there was a sharp deterioration of the demographic situation, Kazakhstan faced the population crisis in the form of its depopulation, posed a real threat to the national security of the country. This is connected with a sharp decline in fertility, increase in mortality of the population, active emigration processes in the republic... In 1992, the maximum population was 16 million 582,000... In the 1990s, there were negative trends in the demographic development of the State. In 1997, only 232,000 children were born, almost half the birth rate, than in 1987 the birth rate fell from 25.7 to 14.7 births per 1,000 people. Such a sharp decline in the birth rate in Kazakhstan has not been since the Second World War. Family and marriage relations have a major impact on fertility rates. The number of marriages has decreased significantly. The marriage rate has decreased accordingly... The number of single-parent families and children born out of wedlock has increased. Since 1991, mortality has increased... As a result of the decline in fertility and the increase in mortality, the natural population growth over the 10 years (1987 — 1997) has decreased by 4 times. Specialists predicted Kazakhstan depopulation of population if such trends continue by 2003 [4].

Starting to study motherhood in modern Kazakh society, I spoke to my former student — Anar, who at 28 became the mother of three children and asked me why I have only one child? She told me that today in Kazakh families it is «trendy» to have 3–4 children, it is an indicator of success and wealth of the family. She said she was criticized by friends, neighbors, because she didn 't want to have the fourth child yet. I was very surprised because I myself experienced serious difficulties (economic, temporary, emotional) even with one child. And this is typical not only for me, but also for many of my colleagues, friends and acquaintances. I wondered what motivates young Kazakh women to be mothers of 3–4 children? I was sure that in modern society young people should be oriented towards self-realization, have higher education, professional successful career, give preference to travel and personal freedom?! According to the Russian researcher Chernova Zh. «…by the level of income and style of consumption they (young adults) are oriented to the standards of life of the middle class: regularly make purchases in large supermarkets, visit shopping complexes, cafes and restaurants, as well as travel, engage in sports and spend money on cultural consumption. For them the value of private life is high, where, as in the professional sphere, they if possible avoid institutionalized forms of relations, tightly regulated roles... The constitutive element of the social group is personal autonomy, manifested in professional and personal paths, as well as in the organization of private space... Have sufficient economic, social and educational resources, allowing them to delay the commission of significant life elections in the professional and family spheres, to build a life project as a result of an individual search for an optimal balance between the desire for self-realization and normative role expecta- tions...» [5; 44]. But, as it turned out, this is not the case with young Kazakh women? Why do they refuse self-realization in favor of fulfilling maternal duty? Why do they think it is important to be mothers, but not personal autonomy? How do they combine active consumption and motherhood? How do they self-realize?

All three discourses described above are developed in Kazakhstan and this raises questions — what does happen to fertility in Kazakhstan: how many children are given birth by a Kazakh woman, what motivates young Kazakh women to give birth to 3–4 children, who/what motivates Kazakh women to decide to give birth to several children, for which purpose 3–4 children are given birth by Kazakh women? Why is the high level of education of Kazakh women and the rather high level of family income not affecting the reduction of the number of children in the family, while this trend is observed in almost all countries of the world? [6; 10–15].

The purpose of my research is to study how motherhood is carried out by young Kazakh women with 3–4 children in modern Kazakh society, what importance is attached to ethnicity, the level of family income, the level of education and state ideology. For starters, I turned to statistical indicators and saw that according to the Statistics Committee of the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in six months (data as of July 1, 2019) the population of nine out of 14 regions, the capital and two cities of national importance increased. Nur-Sultan remains the leader in population growth, with 1,104,126 living in the capital as of July 1. Thus, the population of Nur-Sultan exceeded 1.1 million for the first time in history.

For comparison, the population of Almaty as of July 1 made 1,877,584 people. In Shymkent the population as of July 1 was 1,023,768. At the same time, the population of Karaganda region continues to decline — 1,377,798 people as of July 1, Kostanay region, Pavlodar region, North Kazakhstan region, East Kazakhstan region. Khile the population of Akmola region continues to grow — 739,027 people, Aktobe — up to 875,157 people, Almaty — up to 2,048,476 people, Atyrausky — up to 639,211 people, West Kazakhstan — up to 655,147 people, Zhambyl region — up to 1,129,279 people, Kyzylorda — up to 799,440 people, Mangistau — up to 688,127 people, Turkistan region — 1,999,134 people [7]. These data show that in the southern and western regions of the republic there is a numerical growth of the population, in the northern and central regions — there is no growth. Regional specificity is important for Kazakhstan. Thus, most of the population lives in the western and southern regions, while the northern and central regions are small and the largest number of Kazakh people migrate from them.

If we consider the main statistical indicators related to fertility and ethnicity, we see that:

 total population of Kazakhstan as of September 1, 2018 is 18,311,700. Kazakhstan today ranks 74th place in the list of countries by population. The average density is just over 6.71 persons per km² (184th in the list of countries by population density). This shows that Kazakhstan occupies the 9th place in the world in terms of the size of the territory, and it requires effective demographic policy for raising the birth rate;

 according to the data of the Ministry of Economy and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan at the beginning of 2018, Kazakhs make up the majority of the population (67.47 %). Next, in terms of numerical representation, are Russians (19.76 %), Uzbek (3.18 %), Ukrainians (1.53 %), Uighurs (1.46 %), Tatars (1.11 %) and representatives of other ethnic groups[1];

 if we analyze fertility trends according to the ethnicity of women, we see that most children are born by Kazakh women 231,016, Russians — 28,354, which corresponds to the total representation of certain ethnic groups in Kazakhstan.

But meanwhile, the difference in fertility between Kazakh and Russian women is more than 200,000 children.

It should be noted that the fertility rate of women from Turkic-speaking ethnic groups (Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Uighurs, Tatars, and Azerbaijanis) is higher than women from European ethnic groups (Russians, Ukrainians, and Germans).

 in 2017by Registry office in Kazakhstan were registered 390,262 births, including 226,847 in urban areas and 163,415 in rural areas. It appears that fertility in urban areas has become higher than in rural areas, which indirectly indicates an increase in the proportion of women of reproductive age living in urban areas and, conversely, a decrease in rural areas. But at the same time, the total fertility rate (RRT) — that is, the number of children born on average by one woman during the whole reproductive age (from 15 to 49 years) — is 2.73. i.e. on average, a Kazakh woman gives birth from 2 to 3 children. But in cities the RCS is 2.57, in rural areas — 3.00. Mangistau region — 3.78 and SKO — 3.62 — are leading the indicator of RCS. The lowest results is in Almaty region 1.67 and Kostanay region is 1.73. These data suggest that rural women give birth more than urban women, confirming that there is a correlation between urban population growth and fertility decline. As the general immigration sentiment of Kazakhstanis shows, there is an intensive process of moving from the village to the city, which allows us to talk about the small probability of increasing the number of Kazakhstanis. And the main population growth is likely to take place at the expense of the western and southern regions of Kazakhstan.

 in comparison with 2007, the number of births increased by 21.2 % (boys by 21.9 %, girls by 20.5 %), including in urban areas by 30.1 %, and in rural areas by 10.7 %. Of the births, boys were 51.7 % and girls were 48.3 %. The sex ratio at birth was 107 boys per 100 girls. Thus, more boys are born than girls. But it is necessary to take into account the existence of the problem of super-death of Kazakh men due to the trend of ageing of the population, deterioration of the environmental situation; difficulties in entering the market system; commercialization of the health system and, in general, its deterioration; an increase in violent deaths.

According to official data, 28,589 abortions were done in Kazakhstan in 2017. About 50 % of cases are women over the age of 30. The first number of abortions is Almaty with a figure of 3720, then Astana — 3238, then Karaganda region — 2810. At the same time artificially terminate pregnancy least of all in the west of Kazakhstan. In West Kazakhstan region 392 abortions were made in 2017, in Mangistau region — 359, and in Atyrau region — 222 (the lowest number). But in the west of Kazakhstan, criminal abortions are more common. Thus, the 75 % of criminal abortions is in the region.


It can be said that in Kazakhstan there is a significant differentiation of fertility, which is connected with both ethnic and regional factors. Thus, more children are born in the southern and western regions than in the north, center and east. At the same time, rural women give birth to children more than urban and Turkic-speaking ethnic groups more often have children than European ethnic groups. Thus, according to statistics, women of Turkic-speaking ethnic groups living in rural regions of the Republic can increase fertility in modern Kazakhstan.

But also in the urban environment, there are significant changes among Kazakh women of middle-class. With the arrival of capitalism, Kazakhstan is forming a new urban middle class, which is a cultural hegemon in capitalist society that is, setting cultural standards and the main realizers of child-centric ideology, when a child is an investment project in which it is necessary to invest resources and then he will grow smart and successful. The concept of early development, contains normative conventions on when parents need to resort to the advice of psychologists, speech assistants, therapists, dialectologists, educators; what books to read to the child, what music to listen to, what toys to play, what clothes to buy, what methods of education and training to use; what standards of hygiene care to use. The Russian researcher Olga Issupova writes in the article that «... the ideology of intensive motherhood popular today claiming that the ideal of maternal behavior includes family and educational strategy in the focus of which is the child («decentration»); tendency to follow the advice of experts in the field of child-rearing; emotional sensitivity to children 's needs; the large amount of labor and time devoted to children, with considerable financial costs for their upbringing... The ideology of intensive motherhood and its impact on the well-being of both mothers and children are now the focus of many professionals. For example, Ignacio Gimenez-Nadal and Almudena Seville studied the impact of modern maternal practices on mothers 'well-being and variations in this indicator in relation to educational attainment. By controlling a wide range of personal characteristics, these authors found that mothers with higher levels of education exhibit lower levels of happiness and life satisfaction, as well as higher levels of fatigue due to involvement in different parenting and care activities. While less educated mothers also reproduce some patterns of intensive motherhood, time spent with children has increased in recent decades primarily in more educated mothers. At the same time, women with a high level of education do not leave a feeling that they still do not do enough for the well-being of their children [8]. Questions arise: how young Kazakh women, with higher education, middle class representatives implement the ideology of intensive motherhood with 3–4 children? How do they all make it? Does someone help them? How do they explain to themselves why they need 3–4 or more children? What is the role of the State in ensuring the social conditions for the realization as mother?

An example of how important the symbolic role of women in national relations is the work of several post-Soviet and foreign researchers. For example, Ukrainian researcher Tatiana Zhurzhenko in her work «Gender Markets of Ukraine: The political economy of national construction writes the following: «The first signs of changing the dominant ideology towards the family, the role of women in society and the participation of the state in the processes of social reproduction appeared in the USSR in the early 1980s. The steady decline in the birth rate (especially in the European part of the country) forced the Government to take a set of measures aimed to expand benefits for working mothers, parental leave. The new benefits were aimed, inter alia, at encouraging the family to have a third child; such a policy inevitably involved limiting women's work load in favor of family responsibilities» [9; 119]. Zhurzhenko believes that these changes were not just a reaction to the official ideology of egalitarianism... They reflected the crisis of the socialist «welfare state», the veiled recognition of the social inefficiency of its family policy and the desire to return the family its economic powers and responsibility for the upbringing children... Soviet achievements in the field of gender equality have lost their legitimacy together with the final collapse of the communist project [9; 120]. Zhurzhenko notes that post-Soviet traditionalism has been formed in the post-Soviet space and it has become the dominant form of gender ideology in the transitional society. And it has a number of significant characteristics, including the fact that post-Soviet traditionalism characterizes the actual reduction of the family to reproductive function, to the tasks of childbirth and socialization of children. The relationship of spouses is seen as derived from their function of parenthood, a family without children by some sociologists is not even seen as a family (but only as a «family group»). Naturally, the widespread low-quality (and especially single-child) family is assessed as extremely negative at both macro and micro levels. From a society perspective, this means an alarming downward trend in fertility and depopulation... Accordingly, the proposed measures to get the family out of the crisis are, if not to have a great number of children, measures aimed at «increasing the need for children». As a social ideal, traditionalists offer only one type of family: with two parents and at least three or four children...» [9; 120].

Denise Candioti, believes that: «Post-Soviet gender ideologies do not represent a simple return to national traditions interrupted by Soviet politics, but represent a strategic redistribution of concepts of cultural identity to serve new ideological goals. Thus, gender politics plays a crucial role in signaling both the withdrawal from the Soviet past and the creation of new imaginary nations that enhance social solidarity in increasingly fragmented post-Soviet societies» [10; 601–623.]

Belarusian researcher Alexander Pershai, in his work «Perspectives of History: on Everyday Life, Gender and Nation in Post-Soviet Belarus», considers... «The attitude of national and daily life lies at the intersection of at least three conceptually complex aspects: the national state, gender stratification and the fact that men and women have different daily life, as well as different inclusion in national projects [11; 41].

Another Belarusian researcher, Tatiana Schurko, notes that...» it is believed that the process of national construction includes all residents of a territory, but since the national discourse puts a person in its center, in the androcentric system it means a male norm, a point of view, a privilege and an identity. On the other hand, the real expressions of the will of the Belarusian nation are men. Women usually become visible in Belarusian national discourse when it comes to demographic crisis and extinction of the nation, which, in fact, represents a woman as a machine for biological reproduction [12].

Elena Gapova, in the text «On Gender, Nation and Class in Post-Communist», analyzes the formation of «gender rhetoric» by figures of the nationally oriented Belarusian opposition, and finds that this rhetoric is not only deeply patriarchal — female bodies, female fates are the property of the nation and the arena of political struggle, but also mediated by class interests. «Women's possession and consumption is a class marker that performs the function of giving masquerading as an attribute of» Western, «that is, capitalist — in the sense of having resources, income-generating opportunities and ways of consuming — class» [13].

Eva Kesküla in her article «Oasis in the middle of the steppe: filling with life force and infirmity in the mining sanatorium in Kazakhstan» writes that... «The socialist state supported the presence of women in the public sphere through education and labor policies, but at the same time hidden the social process of women's emancipation, through the way the Soviet state promoted fertility policies and national policies that embodied certain national (and gender) characteristics (Kandiyoti 2007). Conflicting policies meant that although women were represented in the public space, gender equality in the western modernist understanding of the term was not achieved. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, gender studies in Central Asia were mainly aimed at national construction and legitimizing specificity through the repositioning of specific national gender roles (Megoran 1999). Often, almost everywhere in the former Soviet Union, this involved ideas that women were returning to their traditional, pre-Soviet roles (Gal and Kligman 2000; Buckley 1997; Bridger, Pinnick, and Kay 1995; Ashwin 2000)» [14].

Methodology and research methods

We see that researchers view gender relations as a complex structure that is differentiated according to class, ethnicity, religious confession and other social groups and is related to socio-economic reforms in post-Soviet societies.

I will be interested in the question of relating gender to concepts such as ethnicity, class and education. Russian researcher Tartakowska I.N. identifies five main approaches in solving this issue: 1. Gender has no impact on the nature of national/ethnic relations. Representatives of this view are E. Gellner, B. Turner; 2. A symmetrical first approach based on the notion that national/ethnic relations have no impact on gender. This approach is closely related to the second wave of feminism and implies that gender inequality in all societies has common features, and women are universally subject to the same patriarchal oppression. Representative — M. Delhi; 3. The third approach is an attempt to combine the two previous ones. Its meaning is that systems of gender inequality and national/ethnic inequality should be seen as co-existing: for example, women belonging to oppressed nations, such as blacks, suffer from both racial and sexual inequality, both racism and sexism. The approach also recognizes that women belonging to different national groups may be in a relationship of inequality and exploitation. This approach resembles the «two systems» theory, in which attempts were made to combine class and gender analysis; 4. The fourth approach put forward by postcolonial feminism argues that the specific institutions in which the policies of inequality and oppression of white women are implemented and traditionally have been focused on classical feminism do not really play a central role in determining the position of women belonging to other ethnicities. The representative is bell hux; 5. The fifth approach is based on the recognition of the close interweaving of national/ethnic and gender relations, which cannot be understood by simply summing up gender theory and national/ethicality theories. The relationships of these fundamental social categories can only be clarified through careful analysis of causal relationships between different forms of gender and national/ethnic differentiation and inequality. Representatives — F. Antias and N. Yuval-Devis, S. Inloi [15; 136, 137].

In this study, I plan to follow the last, fifth position and consider how ethnic identity is formed by the design of women as borders of the nation and how, in turn, boundaries are created by the performance by women of roles of biological and cultural reproduction. In this case the biological role is understood as a reproductive role of the woman, female mother. Under culture her role is an agent of transmission of traditions and normative models in behavior. In order to create a gender-sensitive analytical model of «production» and «reproduction» of collective identity in Kazakh society, the concept of roles of women in national projects of N. Yuval-Devis is used.

Yuval-Devis argues that women create the «boundaries» of the nation, thus forming a collective ethnic identity... «Woman's affiliation with a national or ethnic community is ambivalent. On the one hand, women, like men, are members of the community. On the other hand, there are always certain rules and instructions that treat women as women» [16; 66]. ... «Gender and body sexuality play a major role as territories, markers, and reproducers of narratives of the nation and other communities. Gender relations are at the heart of the cultural formation of social identities/communities and at the center of most cultural conflicts and dis- putes» [16; 71].

Following Yuval-Devis, I believe that young Kazakh women design and reproduce the collective identity of the ethnic community through the birth of a large number of children and indirectly participating in the national revival of independent Kazakhstan.

Yuval-Devis identifies five areas connecting women and national projects: 1. Women were responsible for the biological reproduction of members in ethnic groups; 2. They reproduce the boundaries of eth- nic/national groups; 3. Women play a central role in the ideological reproduction of the collective and the transmission of its culture; 4. Women are the carriers of ethnic/national differences — and thus the object of attention and symbol of ideological discourse by which ethnic/national categories are created, reproduced and transformed; 5. Women are involved in national, economic, political and military struggles. Yuval-Devis considers how women become participants in the national project and, in particular, how differently, but equally they are involved in this project — then voluntarily, then passionately involved in fight (Role number five), then forced, when sometimes they are considered as producers of «race» (Role number one), and most often everyday — as reproducing culture by socializing children (Roles number two and three), then passively — as symbols (role number four).

Yuval-Devis identifies three main discourse in which women are manipulated as potential mothers: 1. A discourse of «human resources» or «people as a force», which sees increasing the size of its nation as a vital means of realizing national interests; 2. Maltuzian discourse, which, by contrast, aims to reduce «demo- graphic pressure» as a means of avoiding a future «national» catastrophe; 3. Eugenic discourse, which aims to «improve the quality» of the national community by encouraging fertility among the «best» in terms of biological or class origin and limiting fertility among «inappropriate» groups [16; 71]. Each discourse corresponds to a certain public and social policy. Discourse, which Yuval-Devis called «the people as a force», in my opinion, is dominant in Kazakhstan as well. Declining fertility and depopulation are seen as crucial problems determining the nation 's future. The economic and social consequences of depopulation are the deterioration of the labor market situation, the ageing of the population and the increasing burden on the pension system. Some experts point out that the main goal of policies in this area should not be to stimulate fertility and increase its level. In Kazakhstan, however, the «people as a force» discourse has a different side. It is not just a matter of reducing the population, but a more serious threat — «national degeneration», erosion «of Kazakh ethnic group. In modern demographic literature, the reproductive function of women belonging to both «indigenous» nationality and ethnic and linguistic minorities is considered not only in terms of population growth, but also as a factor of national consolidation of Kazakh society on an ethnic basis.

Manifestations of eugenic discourse can also be found in policy documents of the Government of Kazakhstan. The problem of the «preservation in gene pool» of the nation is primarily related to the decline in the health indicators of the population. Pseudo-scientific eugenic discourse, which transfers the patterns of biological population development to human society, is part of the ideology of nationalism. The nationalist discourse, which views the nation as a single organism whose «health» is of concern, also seems to suggest its «treatment». Therefore, measures dictated by concern for the health of future generations (the development of medical genetic services and genetic monitoring systems) are by no means politically neutral, and can be used by the authorities as a means of controlling the «quality» of the nation [16; 71].

All the types of political discourse described above are gender-specific, with women, potential mothers rather than potential fathers being the main recipients. It is their reproductive behavior that is controlled. The central idea of many of these policies is to care about the genetic composition of the population. Those national projects that attach crucial importance to genealogy and origin as the basic principles of the organization of the national community imply the exclusion of non-compliant members of the community. This entails control over marriages, fertility and sexuality, i.e. the violent regulation of gender relations. Yuval- Davis believes that genetic commonality is only one possible reason for unifying a nation/ethicality. In any national project, common culture and traditions play a significant role, with religion and/or language playing a special role. The commonality of culture is often considered more important than biological origin. The mythical unity of national «imaginary communities,» which divides the world into «we» and «they» is strengthened and reproduced at the expense of symbolic «borders». These boundaries are closely related to cultural codes in the style of clothing and behavior, as well as in more developed systems of customs, religious practices, artistic production and, of course, the national language [16; 74].

Gender symbols and ways of designing masculinity and femininity are particularly important in all these areas, as is sexuality and power sharing between the sexes. Women play a crucial role as symbols of cultural boundaries and the embodiment of national values, which are at the same time a key element in the reproduction of culture. It can be said that women bear the «burden of representation», thanks to which they are designed as symbolic carriers of the identity and honor of their nation. The situation of women within the national community is usually ambivalent. On the one hand, they symbolize national honor and unity, as well as being the ultimate argument in justifying any national or ethnic project. At the same time, they are often excluded from real national policy and are more of a target than a subject. Strict cultural codes prescribing what it means to be a «worthy woman» often mean she is in a subordinate position.

Thus, the «women's issue», gender roles, and persistent tensions between motherhood and women's participation in professional careers continued to resonate... In many cases, the Central Asian Soviet Socialist Republics were the stage at which various experiments were conducted to identify women's identity and the difficulties of combining traditional and modern roles of women. Similarly, it was these experiments that provided the basis for contemporary discussions on women's rights to social services and their access to these social resources.


We see that in most post-Soviet States, the social, political and economic reforms of the 1990s have been accompanied to some extent by serious changes in the official ideology of the family and family policy. Kazakhstan has not become an exception in this case. In the media, in political and academic discussions, even in the documents of the women 's movement, the increasing social importance of traditional female roles of wife and mother, the return to man of economic responsibility for the provision of the family, the important role of the «traditionally strong» family in the processes of consolidation and revival of the nation (See Strategy of gender equality for 2006–2016, Concept of achieving family and gender equality in Kazakhstan up to 2030, Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on public health and health system, 2017).

As my informants, I plan to work with young Kazakh women with 3–4 or more children with higher education, living in Karaganda and belonging to the Kazakh middle class (in terms of income and consumption) and working in the education system. As John S.K. Daley notes in his work «The Developing Middle Class in Kazakhstan» …The Kazakh middle class began to form in the early 2000s. Although estimates vary, some analysts believe its numbers are 25 % of the total population, they represent people who consume 50–80 percent of the financial value of all goods sold in Kazakhstan. Analysts further divide this group into two: the lower middle class, with individual annual incomes of $6000 to $9000 (approximately 70 % population) and the «upper» middle class, with annual individual incomes of $9 to $15 thousand (30 % population)... At the same time, the middle class is concentrated in Kazakh cities... He is rich enough to have his own apartment, car, computer and cellular connection... the Kazakh middle class are those who can travel, use the Internet, wear Versace, take their girl or wife for dinner at a restaurant and pay for it with a credit card, rest abroad, dream of sending their children to the United States or Europe for college» [17; 7]. I plan to address young women university teachers who work with me at one university and other universities in Karaganda, know me personally and know that my interest in them is due to the writing of a doctoral thesis. I hope that their level of trust in me will be high by virtue of personal familiarity and they will be able to recuperate their maternal status. Besides, I am a mother myself and I understand what the main difficulties of mothers in Kazakh society exist and it will allow me to be sensitive towards informants. My interview will last from 2 to 3 hours. I think I'm going to have to go back to my informants to clarify their opinions, stories and details. The main topics I will address in my interview are the history of the family, the history of the birth of children, the building of relations with children, with the husband, relatives, daily experience of motherhood, attitude to state family policy, plans for the future.

In studying the practice of motherhood by Kazakh women, I hope to demonstrate the influence of traditional regulations of Kazakh culture on the role of women and mothers and the influence of the concept of intensive motherhood, concepts of early development of children and ideology of nation-building. I assume that there are serious normative gaps in understanding and realization of motherhood for a modern Kazakh woman who is under pressure from her ethnicity, class, education, profession and state ideology.



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Year: 2020
City: Karaganda
Category: Philosophy