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Nur-Sultan – The burden of unpaid care work on many women is increasing due to school closures, aged family members at risk and other consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. Women are often the primary caregivers at home and have greater domestic responsibilities - globally, women do two and a half times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men. The global response to the outbreak provides an opportunity for the re-distribution of unpaid care and domestic work. Under the quarantine conditions Kazakhstanis began to spend more time on educating children and caring for older family members than on everyday household chores.

As the recently launched UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief shows, the vast majority of women’s employment – 70% – is in the informal economy, with few protections against dismissal or for paid sick leave and limited access to social protection. It is expected that the situation with COVID-19 may have a serious impact on the situation of vulnerable population, as well as gender, age and disability inequalities.

According to the Rapid Gender Assessment conducted by UN Women and UNFPA, with regards to the family workload sharing during COVID-19 while providing support and care, in Kazakhstan men were more readily involved to raise and care for children and older family members than in helping with daily domestic tasks. Although women's time spent on household care has increased (from 18% to 41%), almost every third male respondent said that they started to help children more in learning (32%), as well as spend more leisure time with them (30%) as well as senior family members (30%).

UN Resident Coordinator for Kazakhstan Mr Norimasa Shimomura noted: “Despite the excessive workload, women are more likely to try to help their spouses. It should be noted that other family members, including children, have begun to help their parents more with household chores. Due to forced isolation, which is characterized by a high burden on individual family members, it is necessary to redistribute time resources and responsibilities for a particular type of household activity”.

Durig the isolation, women, more than men, experienced an increase in the amount of domestic work. While the cumulative percentage of men who have increased time spent on three or more types of household chores is 26%, the percentage of women in this category is 40%.

“The workload under quarantine has increased significantly for both women and men. Most of the domestic work is related to maintaining order in the house, cooking and raising children. At the same time, the influence of gender stereotypes in the distribution of domestic functions is observed, especially in rural areas. Already before the lockdown another survey had shown how it is mostly women who take care of children under 14 years of age - staying at home when the child is unwell; making sure they are properly dressed; putting them to bed, helping with homework etc., with only about 3% of men performing any such tasks”, said UNFPA in Kazakhstan Representative Ms Giulia Vallese.

“The main point in involved fatherhood and in the upbringing of children in general is our personal example. The best that a father can do for his children is to love the mother of his kids. That way the children and the entire family will live in harmony, - says Nikolay Kolesnikov, who was interviewed for a podcast “Involved Fatherhood” initiated by the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy under President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and UNFPA Kazakhstan. – “To love means to act. One who loves should always be in the process of building a relationship. And this process should be mutual. Both wife and husband are equal and one cannot say that a certain job should be done by a man and the other one by a woman”.

Social norms and behaviors, sustaining traditional gender roles in the society, obstruct gender equality in many aspects of women’s lives, including the household. “The analysis of the Gender Social Norms Index recently introduced by UNDP shows that 96% of population in Kazakhstan still hold some sort of bias against women. Yet, norms can change as economies develop, with changes in communications technology, with new laws, policies or programmes, with activism and with exposure to new ideas and practices through formal and informal channels”, said UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan Mr Yakup Beris.

The UN mandate and commitment towards gender equality and women’s empowerment calls upon all personnel to walk the talk on unpaid care work. We are launching the #EqualPartners campaign for promoting equal distribution of household tasks and to showcase this commitment through visuals to change social norms. This month, UN is inviting families to post photos and videos of what it takes to be #EqualPartners to inspire families across the country. Music band “101”, in partnership with UNFPA and music producer Alikhan Mussatayev, are releasing a song dedicated to Fathers’ Day and encouraging men to play an active part in family life and not miss a chance of being a part of their children’s life.


Background information

The Rapid Gender Assessment was carried out during the months of April/May 2020 as a result of COVID-19, in order to assess the impact that the pandemic is having on men and women around the country.  The assessment included a total of 2,202 respondents (53% women, 47% men) from 14 regions of Kazakhstan and the three largest cities of Nur-Sultan, Almaty and Shymkent.  A total of 59.8% were urban residents and 40.2% rural residents. E-copy of the report in Russian and English accessible via the following link:

For additional information please contact Press and Communication Officer of the UN in Kazakhstan Ms Elnara Bainazarova: +7 701 9400086, e-mail: