I Forum of Working Women: Federation of Trade Unions advocates for equal opportunities and justice in the field of work

On April 12, the First Forum of Working Women of Kazakhstan “Women at work: a time for new solutions” was held, organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan jointly with the International Labor Organization.

The large-scale event became a platform for discussing and developing effective solutions to improve the state’s gender policy, strengthen the role of women in modern society, create opportunities for their self-realization and preserve traditional family values, as well as ensure decent working conditions for women.

The forum brought together trade union leaders of all levels, members of the National Commission on Women’s Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, members of the FPRK Commission on Working Women, representatives of the International Labor Organization, the International Trade Union Confederation, leaders of national trade union partner centers, deputies of the Mazhilis of Parliament, social partners, as well as more than 60 women delegates representing 23 industries, 55 different professions.

Welcoming the participants of the event, Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan Satybaldy Dauletalin noted the special role of Kazakhstani women of different generations in the socio-economic development of society, preservation of traditions and spiritual and moral values, education of younger generations.

At the same time, he emphasized the issues of ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men in the field of work, both in the country and in the world.

“Today, necessary measures have been taken and are being taken in our country to expand opportunities for productive employment of the population, aimed at reducing unemployment, ensuring employment of men and women, as well as achieving gender equality in the social and labor sphere. Our country has made some progress in involving women in the political, economic and social spheres of society,” the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions recalled.

Today, trade unions advocate the development of effective mechanisms for the implementation of gender policy and the full involvement of women in public life.

“Women’s employment and fair pay for their work should be at the center of the state’s social and economic policy. It is necessary to strengthen social guarantees for working women, persons with family responsibilities, and the prevention of any form of discrimination against women in everyday life and work. Therefore, the purpose of the Forum is to promote the economic empowerment of women in Kazakhstan in the context of structural modernization, increase their social status and gender equality. And the role of trade unions is very important here. There are 1.6 million people in the FPRK member organizations – 54% of them are women. Among the chairmen of primary schools, members of trade union committees and members of various commissions (the most active part of trade unions), the fair sex also prevails noticeably. In the context of such statistics, purposeful trade union work with women’s rights is natural,” stressed Satybaldy Dauletalin.

According to a sociological study by the Federation of Trade Unions, in which more than 2 thousand women were interviewed, there is no critical level of violation of the rights of women workers in Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, speaking about current issues, the Chairman of the FPRC drew attention to the importance of providing social guarantees for workers in the informal sector, most of whom are women.

Trade unions are also concerned about violations of labor legislation by employers, including the dismissal of pregnant women and women with children under the age of three; the involvement of women and other persons raising children in overtime work, work on weekends and holidays, at night without written consent; violation of the procedure for hiring, termination of employment contracts, provision of guarantees pregnant women and persons with family responsibilities when sent on business trips.

Along with this, as Satybaldy Dauletalin stressed, the imbalance in wages between women and men requires a solution.

“According to the Bureau of National Statistics of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in 2023 men received 22% more than women. Wage inequality creates a woman’s dependence on benefits, as well as on her husband, whose work is better paid. This leads to an unequal position of the spouses in family life. According to ILO research, the main causes of the wage gap are occupational segregation and gender separation in industries and sectors of the economy. Women are still underrepresented in higher-paying industries, where men traditionally predominate,” the Head of the FPRK believes.

Among the most important issues, problems related to the labor protection of working women were voiced.

“In 2023, 249 workers were injured, of which 9 women died. (1,474 people were injured, 251 workers died at work). 673 thousand women work in harmful and other unfavorable working conditions, 88 thousand of them are employed in conditions that do not meet sanitary and hygienic requirements, 23 thousand work under the influence of increased noise and vibration, 17 thousand in increased dust and gas pollution,” the Chairman of the FPRK said.

One of the priorities of the country’s trade union movement is also to ensure protection from discrimination and violence in the workplace.

“The Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with the International Labour Organization, the International Trade Union Confederation, and the UN regional office, is working to promote ILO Convention No. 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment at Work. Convention No. 190 defines domestic violence among the factors affecting employment and work, as well as the safety and health of workers. All of us – the government, trade unions and employers – must play our part in shaping a work culture based on mutual respect and dignity,” said Satybaldy Dauletalin.

The Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions proposed that the Government begin work on the ratification of this convention in Kazakhstan, begin developing a National Decent Work Program, and declare 2025 the Year of Gender Equality.

“Decent work, decent wages and social guarantees are not a privilege, but the right of every citizen of Kazakhstan. It is not enough to have these rights – they must be conquered, used their rights and boldly defended. Only through the joint efforts of the entire civil society will we be able to protect the rights of workers, raise the social status of women and achieve real equality. Together we must challenge discriminatory norms, support women in order for them to realize their strength and their rights,” the Head of the FPRK concluded.

During the plenary session, Maria Helena Andre, Director of the ILO’s ACTRAV Bureau, Mikaela Friberg-Storey, UN Permanent Coordinator in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Esther Lynch, Secretary General of the ITUC, Akmadi Sarbasov, First Vice-Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Deputy Chairman of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Denmark Espayeva, Deputy Chairman of the National Commission, greeted the participants on Women’s Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Elena Tarasenko, President of the Civil Alliance of Kazakhstan Banu Nurgazieva, Deputy Director General of the National Confederation of Employers “Paryz” Sholpan Abikenova.





Ramazan Salikzhanov, Candidate of Sociological Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department of Sociology at ENU, presented a sociological study “Women’s labor rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan” to the forum participants.

Zarina Abikenova, a delegate of the forum, a crane operator at the Aksus Ferroalloy Plant, shared her experience in protecting the rights of women workers at the enterprise, spoke about securing additional social guarantees for women in a collective agreement, as well as about events, programs and projects to support women in the field of health, leisure, education and psychological comfort.

The Forum continued with thematic blocks devoted to the promotion of the principles of decent work for women and the development of women’s potential in sustainable development. The participants discussed the factors hindering the career growth of women, proposed mechanisms to support and stimulate the active participation of women in managerial and leadership positions.

Along with this, the issues of professional growth and development of women were considered. Ideas were expressed to expand access to educational programs aimed at professional development and leadership skills development among representatives of various professional fields.

In addition, the issues of combining professional activity and family life were raised. The need to create more flexible work schedules, provide additional support measures, etc. was noted.

An important result of the event was the adoption of the Resolution of the I Forum of Working Women of Kazakhstan, in which the participants formulated important recommendations and proposals to ensure equal opportunities and protect the rights of working women in Kazakhstan.

“Trade unions and employers should combine their efforts to solve socio–economic problems, create adequately paid and safe work for women, expand social benefits and guarantees for working women. To this end, it is necessary in agreements and collective agreements to provide special sections and provisions containing additional rights, benefits and guarantees for women. The parties to the social partnership should jointly make efforts to promote the ratification of ILO Convention No. 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment at Work. To promote the UN principles on the empowerment of women in every possible way,” the resolution says.

The Government and Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan are recommended to take measures to employ women with disabilities by developing and including new positions in the Atlas of New Professions and Competencies in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

It is proposed to increase quotas and subsidies for employers to create special jobs for women with disabilities, as well as to increase benefits for large families, single parents, and people with children with disabilities;

The importance of taking measures to expand the network of preschool institutions, increase state funding for medical care and rehabilitation of children and mothers was noted.

“The Forum participants believe that the proposed measures will make it possible to intensify work to improve the lives of women in the country, increase the effectiveness of measures taken on gender and social policy, and really ensure the institutional rights of women. The Forum participants propose to declare 2025 the Year of Gender Equality, which should be the starting point for the empowerment of women in the field of work,” the participants of the event believe

In general, the forum was an important step in achieving the goals of ensuring equal opportunities and justice in the social and labor sphere.

Media Center of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan