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13 May, 2021 - KAZAKHSTAN - Singer and activist KALIYA (Akmarzhan Kusherbayeva) has been appointed as the Honorary Ambassador of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund in Kazakhstan. Kaliya and UNFPA are renewing their efforts to empower women, girls and youth to have access to sexual and reproductive health information and services and to promote gender equality. 

UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Its mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

“For too long people have been reluctant to ask questions about topics such as puberty, menstruation, contraception, how to prevent unintended pregnancies or sexually-transmission infections. . And this has undermined the most basic needs and rights of women, girls and young people,” says Kaliya. “Having the right information at the right time, knowing whom to talk to to seek the correct information and having access to non-judgmental health services are key to grow up with confidence, healthy and protected.”

Kazakhstan has made a lot of progress in ensuring that more young people have access to quality youth-friendly  reproductive health information and services. This work includes efforts to improve the quality of obstetric in-patient care, antenatal care, family planning, prevention and treatment of sexually-transmitted infections including HIV, ensuring that adolescents and young adults can have access to quality and friendly reproductive health counseling and services, as well as preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Some of the recent examples of this work include the development of SHYN.KZ website, Telegram chat-bot and mobile application for adolescents and parents; consistent work to make the network of Youth Health Centres (YHC) more sustainable, including through training of YHC and providing medical personnel with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify gender-based violence and respond to it. These are just some examples of the efforts that Kazakhstan has embarked to with support from partners including UNFPA.

Challenges, however, remain as teenage pregnancies remain high, knowledge on HIV and AIDS low and violence against women - already unacceptably high, has further increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic .

“Women and girls should be empowered to decide freely if and when to marry, whom to marry and if and when to have children. Central Asian countries have in common strong patriarchal societies and this fuels gender inequalities. It is therefore important to encourage and support those traditions which are beneficial to society and challenge those social norms that are harmful to individuals and society as a whole,” said Giulia Vallese, UNFPA Representative for Kazakhstan and Country Director for Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. “Engaging with public opinion leaders and influencers goes a long way in conveying and multiplying life-saving information to those most in need. We have partnered with Kaliya for over four years and are thrilled that we can recognize her officially as Honorary Ambassador as we look forward to many more years of fruitful work in providing the right and much-needed information to everyone.”

The partnerships of UNFPA and Kaliya started in 2017 with a song “Қыз тағдыры” (Kaz.”Her Future”), which then turned into a project “Her Future” that highlights the challenges that young women and girls face such as gender-based violence, early and unintended pregnancies and other issues. This project led to her becoming the Voice of UNFPA in Kazakhstan on sexual and reproductive health for women and youth. 

Ms. Akmarzhan Kusherbayeva has always been passionate and vocal about gender equality and combating gender based violence in Kazakhstan. Over the past several years she participated in  a series of national, regional and global events to promote the right to reproductive health information and services, dismantle taboos and advance women’s health. Kaliya’s song opened the milestone Nairobi Summit in 2019, where Kazakhstan made a series of commitments to further advance the ICPD agenda. 

Kaliya is actively involved in a wide range of social and charity projects including those relating to providing assistance to vulnerable children, women and young people. Last year she became a member of the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy under the Akimat (local administration) of Almaty city.

Strongly established in the sectors of show-business and an advocate for human rights, including reproductive rights and gender equality, Akmarzhan Kusherbayeva will work to promote the ICPD agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

For more information, please contact Dina Teltayeva via email or tel.: 8701 7654010.