263. The Kyrgyz Republic is actively carrying out a gender equity and development policy. One of its aspects has been development and implementation of the Ayalzat National Program for Support of the Women (1996-2000). The Program took into account basic provisions of the Platform of Actions adopted at the Forth World UN Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), which was accepted by the world community as a human rights program for women. The development and implementation of the gender policy is being carried out with active support of such international agencies as UNDP, OSCE, Soros Foundation, UNFPA, USAID, the Adenouer Foundation and many others. Due to the successful implementation of the Ayalzat National Program, at the special meeting of the UN Commission for Women, Kyrgyzstan was named as one of the top ten countries successfully implementing the obligations accepted at the Beijing conference.
264. State employees are being trained in implementation of the gender equity policy in various areas of activity. Educational institutions have introduced special courses on the theory of gender, seek researchers and teachers specializing in gender issues, national professional gender specialists are being developed in the Republic. Various gender-related NGOs and social partnerships receive state support. Multiple studies are carried out and gender-related materials are being published along with development of gender-specific statistics. A growing number of citizens realize that gender equity, social protection and other forms of assistance to the women in the conditions of free market directly relate to the formation of gender equity and development ideology, including promotion of women politicians.
265. However, despite the legislatively declared equality in the rights of both women and men, equality of opportunities and their implementation is still inadequate. Men still predominate in government agencies. Women, representing 51 percent of voters, account for only 6.7 to 16 percent of employees in representative bodies of all levels. There are only 14.7 percent of women occupying managerial positions in government bodies, and 24.4 percent of female managers of structural subdivisions, departments and directorates.
266. From 1996 to 2001, the level of economic activity among women dropped by 4.9 percent, while the equivalent figure for the men was 1.9 percent. Women account for 53.3 percent of all illiterate citizens, of which 15,000 (45 percent) are unemployed living in rural areas. Together with indigent and single women, they account for almost one third of all women who need various forms of social assistance. The idea of self-employment through the financial system – particularly microfinance – has been widely developed as a means of reducing poverty among such categories of women.
Nevertheless, of the 49.2 percent of families living in poverty, the families headed by women are less likely to be poor than families headed by men. The new economic conditions have made women become more mobile. A significant share of women has moved into the private sector employment. However, the gap in the remuneration of men and women remains. The salary of a woman is on average 67.6 percent that of a man. This is partly due to the fact that women take any kind of work and mainly occupy the lowest positions in low-paying sectors – agriculture, education, health care, and social sector. In addition to that, absences for childcare reduce women’s pension savings by 10 to 30 percent. As a result, the average pension size of the women is 70 to 77 percent that of the men.
In the structure of the employed population, 75.1 percent of women work as hired workers, 15 to 18 percent are owners of private businesses and farm leaders, and 46.3 percent work for family business without payment. 50.8 percent of women have land shares but in spite of the formally equal legal rights on private land ownership the existing traditional stereotypes limit the legal capacity of women in this issue. Lack of development and deterioration of the social infrastructure, especially in the rural areas, has led to the situation that household labor is mostly performed by women. Working women allocate on average 4-5 hours a day to household activities using 19 percent of daily time, while unemployed women spend twice as much time at household activities as do working women. For men, this figure does not exceed 5 percent and accounts for little over an hour a day.
267. Poverty and related social issues directly affect the health of citizens. Unbalanced nutrition and inadequate access to health services, along with the increased labor load, negatively impacts on the health of women. The incidence of anemia among pregnant women is on average 54.7 percent, climbing in some regions to 70 to 90 percent. Only 40.3 percent of births go normally (without pathologies). A notable achievement is the reduced level of maternal mortality. During the years of independence, it has been reduced by 38.6 percent and in 2001 was 49.9 per 100,000 live births. This significant reduction was conditioned by successful implementation of health sector reforms and modernization of obstetric facilities that was carried out with the assistance of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Union, the governments of Germany, Japan, and Switzerland; and other donors. However, the maternal mortality rate in Republic is still almost 2.5 times higher than the average European level. Adoption of the Law on Reproductive Rights was an important step towards the gender equality.
Socio-economic difficulties and poverty create a favorable environment for the growth of alcoholism, drug addiction, tuberculosis (TB), and sexually transmitted diseases. In the past five years, the number of TB cases among women has doubled, while the incidence of venereal diseases has increased five fold. Men account for 67 percent of patients with active form of tuberculosis, and 86.5 percent of patients with alcohol dependence. The number of HIV-infected has sharply increased, with 173 of the infected being men and 16, women.
268. Poverty is also one the factors contributing to growing violence against women and among women. Only ten crisis centers and shelters founded with the support of international organizations operate in the Republic at present. The number of such facilities is much below the need for them. Nearly 30,000 women have turned to these crisis centers in the past three years to receive assistance after suffering various forms of violence. According to some independent estimates, nearly 4,000 women annually become victims of human trade in Kyrgyzstan. In comparison to the year 1994, the level of crimes committed by women has almost doubled, with most of the crimes being related to illegal drug trafficking. Military conflicts have also increased the importance of protecting women in such areas and promoting their participation in peacemaking activities.
269. The main issues hindering promotion of gender equity and development of families and women include:
· Weak legislation and its inconsistency with the gender equity and development policy.
· Absence of an active ideology promoting gender equity and development, improving the role of women, and supporting the institution of the family (the main foundation for full implementation of human rights, reduced social tension, and basic condition for sustainable human development).
· Remaining patriarchal attitudes promoting a traditionally dependent position of the women.
· Lack of financing needed for the implementation of gender policy and associated national and sectoral programs.
· Absence of gender balance on all levels of decision making; insufficient use of gender approaches in economic and social policies and state governance reform.
· Low awareness of the issues of gender equality and development.
· Lack of adequate responsibility and accountability of elected officials on the issue of promoting gender equity inhibit implementation of related policy measures.
· Lack of available financing and other resources needed for the support self-employment and creation of individual small and medium businesses.
· Remaining inequality in the remuneration of men and women.
· A growing volume of unpaid household labor of women due to performance of reproductive functions and deteriorated social infrastructure (especially in rural areas).
· Increased incidence of sexual exploitation and violence against women (including children and adolescents), forced trafficking of women.
· Lack of state support in development of crisis shelters and information advisory centers rendering assistance to the victims of violence.
· Presence of gender stereotypes in the mass media.
· Insufficient development of methodology for gender analysis and mechanisms for introduction of gender approaches into public practice.
· Lack of an effective system of gender monitoring and evaluation.
270. To support the active and consistent implementation of gender equity and development policy, the President has approved the National Action Plan for Achievement of Gender Equity for 2002-2006 and a corresponding action matrix. The National Council on Affairs of Women and Gender Development was established under the President of Kyrgyz Republic, with the Council’s Secretariat as a structural division of the President’s Administration.
271. The issue of ensuring gender equity and development is a complex matter. This important factor in reducing poverty in all its manifestations has defined the following main priorities:
· Improvement of the institutional framework for the achievement of gender equity envisages enhancement of the gender component in the national legislation; greater consideration of gender issues in elaboration and implementation of policy measures, national, regional and sectoral programs and projects, as well as in the relevant reporting; studies, analysis and development of relevant recommendations and proposals.
· Maintenance of gender balance on all levels of decision making envisages promotion of women’s participation on all levels of decision making and filling 30 percent of political decision-making positions by women (the level recommended by the UN Commission on the Status of Women).
· Development of the gender component in the area of labor, employment and social protection provisions measures for poverty reduction, creation of a gender balanced labor market, as well as an adequate provision of social assistance to men and women.
· Gender aspects in the health sector provision increased accessibility of quality medical services to men and women; promotion of preventive programs and healthy life styles.
· Gender parity in education and culture includes addressing of the gender aspects in education and overcoming negative gender stereotypes in the traditional culture.
· Reduction of all forms of violence against women includes comprehensive measures on prevention of gender violence in society, eradication of human trade, as well as protection of and support for the victims of human trade; promotion of greater public awareness of the issue of violence.
272. The newly developed and implemented National Action Plan on the Achievement of Gender Equality in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2002-2006, is a document unique for all ex-Soviet countries since it envisages protection not only of the rights of women but also of the men. The policy measures in this document developed with consideration for international practice, focus on progressive methods of introducing gender approaches, as well as methods of gender analysis of the budget process and development of appropriate gender indicators.
273. The following needs to be done in the first phase of developing gender policy factors:
· Institutional framework. There is a need to build the capacity of the National Council on Family, Women and Gender under the President of Kyrgyz Republic; enhance its coordinating role on the national level; and ensure sustainability and continuity of its activities. A mechanism of coordinating gender policy on sectoral and regional levels needs to be developed and introduced in all state agencies that will in future promote practical application of gender aspects. A study of women’s representation at all levels of power will be carried out and a relevant mechanism for achievement of gender balance on all levels of decision making will be developed; training of women-leaders from all strata of the society will be continued.
· National legislation. It is provided that national legislation will be brought into compliance with the Republic’s gender-related obligations under various international conventions and agreements. Various procedures and mechanisms for carrying out mandatory gender assessment will be developed to this end. The gender related examination of existing and new draft laws would be continued. The draft laws On State Guarantees of Gender Equality in the Kyrgyz Republic and on Social and Legal Protection from Violence in Families will need to be passed as a priority matter. The new laws on civil and municipal services should be developed with full integration of gender issues. Measures will be undertaken to raise the awareness of the population (especially the poor) in regard to the national legislation, international conventions, and treaties on gender equality.
· Socio-economic sphere. It necessary to define the role and responsibilities of the State, labor unions, and employers in the introduction of measures ensuring equal employment opportunities for women and men. The idea of joint management of family finances should be developed and promoted through better access to property and resources by women. A thorough analysis of gender issues in domestic migration and immigration should be carried out in order to develop a more balanced approach to the creation of jobs and labor markets. Other measures include support of pre-school and child-nutrition institutions, as well as provision of equal rights for social assistance to both parents in the reproductive activity.
· Reducing violence against women. The State should provide greater support to the existing network of crisis centers and shelters for the victims of violence. The system of shelters should be disseminated throughout the Republic. Staff of law-enforcement agencies should continue to be trained in gender sensitivity. Measures will be undertaken to establish and develop violence prevention units such as self-help groups; ensure participation of women in conflict resolution and peacemaking; promote greater public awareness of these issues.
274. Elimination of existing gender disparities together with full and comprehensive integration of gender aspects into all levels of society will become the next important steps in improving gender equity policy.
The second phase of gender policy development envisages the following measures:
· Full integration of gender consideration methodologies into national, sectoral, and regional programs, as well as in the budget process and functioning of state agencies. Implementation of specific action to ensure gender balance at all levels of decision making in government instrumentalities.
· Expansion of scientific studies on gender development and consideration of the findings in the planning and elaboration of strategies and policies. Wider use of gender-specific statistics to facilitate monitoring and evaluation of gender aspects. Annual renewal of the National Report on Gender Development and promotion of its wide discussion.
· Continuation and acceleration of activities on ratification of international documents relating to the issue of equal rights and opportunities of genders, and application of these norms in the national legislation. Special attention is to be given to the legislative alleviation of negative gender stereotypes that are based on traditions and common law.
· Development of measures on integration of the informal sector into the formal economy in order to ensure protection of the rights of women and men employed in the informal sector.
· Development and introduction of mechanisms for the elimination of gender disparity in retirement pension benefits due to the performance of the reproductive function by women. Defining the economic value of the household (reproductive) labor and provision of relevant compensation through the system of state benefits.
· Gender related education of state and municipal employees on all levels, local authorities and self-government officials, judicial bodies, and the staff of law-enforcement agencies.
· Introduction of a gender component into state educational standards and changing the traditional model of raising boys and girls in the family and society.
· Organization of public information campaigns to raise the awareness of the national gender policy.
· All-around support to implementation of the National Program on Prevention of Human Trade and development of measures relating to the protection of women living in conflict zones.
· Improvement of accessibility of free legal assistance to the poor who have suffered violence; development of social advocacy.
· Consideration of establishing an independent criminological center to explore the opportunities of reducing and preventing crime (including the crime committed by women and youth), rehabilitation of ex-convicts.
· Undertaking specific actions for separate placement of women and girls in penal institutions, development and introduction of rehabilitation programs for people who have committed crimes.
· A general unified approach of intersectoral response the violence against women should be developed. Gender-specific crime statistics should be maintained in order to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of measures in this sphere.
Ensuring gender equality and development should become an important component in the comprehensive process of ensuring full implementation of human rights.