Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad to be here today to open this conference on Intersectional approaches to exercise the minors’ rights. First of all, I would like to thank Mrs Asiya Khairullina, member of the National Commission for Women Affairs, Family and Demographic Policy under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan for her efforts in organizing this Conference and inviting me to speak. I would also like to thank Mrs Abdykalykova, State Secretary of the Republic of Kazakhstan for her readiness to take part in the Conference and Civil Service for hosting this event. Finally many thanks to you all for your interest in this issue.
Session 59 of the United Nations on the Status of Women reaffirmed that in most countries the problem of discrimination against women remain unresolved. One reason is that the efforts to counter discrimination against women are not sufficiently focused on reducing the vulnerability of girls - without solving this problem we will never move forward in protection of women’s rights.
In Kazakhstan there are more than 2 million underage girls. For the last years, crimes against adolescent girls are increased: rape (Criminal Code, article 120) increased by 4%; sexual intercourse and other sexual acts (article 122) in 2 times; the involvement of underage in prostitution (article 132.1), increased to 30.7% and this is particularly worrying.
Every year more than three thousand adolescent girls have early marriages. For example, in 2013, in Kazakhstan 3,676 underage girls gave births. Also in 2013 it was revealed that about 25% of Kazakhstan’s teenage girls have gynecological diseases, 22% of them have sexually transmitted infections.
Promoting girls’ and women’ rights is one of the FCO’s human rights priorities. We strongly believe that girls and women should have voice, choice and control over their lives. To achieve this, the British Embassy Astana and Women’s League of Creative Initiative are working together to build an enabling environment for girls and women including by:
- development of proposals and recommendations for the empowerment of girls to be included into the new Strategy of Gender Equality;
- strengthening co-operation of leading women’s and human rights NGOs in Kazakhstan;
- development of gender equality by policy discussions and exchange of experiences and technologies.
It all correlates with the Millennium Development Goals. The promotion and protection of women’s rights is enshrined in international human rights law and it is essential for stable and prosperous societies, within which women fully participate in political, economic and social life. Without gender equality, development goals cannot be fully realized. We in FCO work to prevent victimization and violence against women and girls to ensure that they are a visible force in every society. A key element of women’s empowerment is ensuring girls and women have voice, choice and control on matters of sex, marriage and having children.
We are therefore, committed to uphold the promotion and protection of women’s rights, not only domestically, but to also promote it internationally through bilateral and multilateral initiatives and projects such as this one.
This conference is one of a series which are part of a project funded by the British Embassy Astana. Over the last 6 months we have run it in cooperation with the Women’s League of Creative Initiative. So far round tables and workshops have been offered to Commission on women under the Akims, NGOs, local authorities, ethnic communities, and clergy. The results of the project and developed proposals and recommendations for the empowerment of girls are will presented for the inclusion in the new document “Strategy of Gender equality in Kazakhstan.”
I therefore hope you will enjoy the conference and find it helpful. I would like to wish you every success in your lives and careers.