Press Release

Access to reproductive health information and services is key to create an enabling environment to plan a family in Kazakhstan

13 Июль 2018

13 July 2018, Astana, Kazakhstan – Representatives of Government, non-governmental organizations, reproductive health activists and bloggers have come together at a special event on the occasion of World Population Day, which this year is themed “Family Planning is a Human Right”. The participants discussed family planning as a tool which enables people to exercise their right to choose the size of their family and decide when and how many children they want to have.

 

The “#TheRightToChoose” event styled as a talk show was organized by the United Nations Population Fund, Ana Uyi (Mothers' Home) Public Fund, and Artishock theatre.

 

Family planning was proclaimed as a basic human right in 1968, at the International Conference on Human Rights in Teheran. Access to voluntary family planning enables women to space their births, benefiting the health of both mothers and their children. Family planning also reduces the risk of death and disability from pregnancy and childbirth too early or too late in a woman’s reproductive life. It is also essential to overcoming poverty, which deepens when individuals can’t choose the size of their family. However, despite tremendous progress since 1968, hundreds of millions of women, men and young people are unable to exercise the right to plan their families, and 214 million women world-wide still lack modern contraceptives.

 

The highest rates of sexually transmitted infections worldwide are among young people aged 15 to 24. Family planning services, especially the provision of male and female condoms, enhance prevention of these infections. In Kazakhstan a study shows that about half of young people aged 15-19 had an episodic or regular sexual intercourse. About half (41%) of sexually active adolescent boys had more than one sexual partner and were not concerned by the practice of promiscuity.

 

“We are also concerned about the reproductive health status of young people in Kazakhstan.  The adolescent birth rate is 6 times higher than in OECD countries. Out of 1,000 girls aged 15-19 in 2015, 36 became mothers[1].  However, many pregnancies end up in abortion or miscarriage so the number of girls who get pregnant is much higher,” said Giulia Vallese, UNFPA Representative for Kazakhstan and Country Director for Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.

 

“Family planning including access to contraceptives is not only a matter of human rights. It is central to achieving gender equality.  When women and couples are empowered to plan whether and when to have children, women are better enabled to complete their education; women’s autonomy within their households is increased; and their earning power is improved. This strengthens their economic security and well-being and that of their families,” said Ms. Giulia Vallese.

 

Public figure Akmarzhan Kusherbayeva is the voice of UNFPA in Kazakhstan. Her video “Kyz Tagdyry”, exploring the issue of adolescent pregnancies, was shown during the event.

 

 “It is important to inform adolescents about their reproductive rights, how they can take care of their health, about the consequences of a risky behaviour, about contraception and about responsibility. This gives us hope that one day an adolescent will use this knowledge for their own benefit and for the benefit of their close ones,” said Akmarzhan.

 

To ensure good reproductive health of the population there are 3 pillars that should be ensured by the governments. Those are (1) access to quality reproductive health services, (2) access to modern contraceptives, (3) access to quality sexuality education. Every pillar is highly important by itself but absence of any of the pillar would not allow to ensure the population well-being in terms of reproductive health.

 

“Ana Uyi” (Mother’s Home) public fund, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, is a co-organizer of #TheRightToChoose event. To highlight the results of its work over this time, the Fund is publishing a book of stories told by its residents. The value of a child’s life is indisputable, as is the life of a child’s mother, and her right to self-fulfillment in various social roles. Mother’s Home gives new skills and knowledge so that a mother can build a good life for herself and her child. The Home helps a young woman and her child when they need care and support the most. Once they are out of a crisis, the Fund tries to provide a woman with access to diverse information and expert consultations. This is done to help a young mother find constructive and timely solutions to life situations. The book “100 Mums” is about the life of the Home’s residents after they left the facility and about the types of the life skills they started using which the Fund made available to them.

 

“Every person is free to choose when and in what circumstances they want to become a parent. Even in very similar situations people make decisions that are right in their own way. No one can tell young people what choice they should make. We can only show that there can be many choices and that each of them deserves respect. If a young woman makes a decision to have a child after an unintended pregnancy, no one can judge, blame or frighten her. Everyone, however, can give her care and warmth, as well as share experience with her. Up to 70% cases of potential child abandonment are prevented thanks to the timely support from the Mother’s Home. Over 3300 mothers have received support from the Home over the past five years. Their children live with their mothers, ensuring basic rights of children, such as the right to live in a family and know their family history,” said the Executive Director of “Ana Uyi” PF Bibigul Makhmetova.

 

For more information on the Right to Choose event, campaign, and any other enquiries please contact UNFPA Communications Specialist Dina Teltayeva at Dina Teltayeva  tel.: +7701 765 40 10; e-mail teltayeva@unfpa.org

 

[1] MICS report 2015