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Today, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the global push for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is “Think equal. Build smart. Innovate for change.” By exploring the ways in which innovation can work for gender equality, we boost investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build public services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.


Whereas Kazakhstan has a strong economy, substantial obstacles to the full realization of women’s rights persist. These include the rights to equal political, economic and social opportunities, the freedom to decide whom to marry and when and how many children to have, and freedom to express thoughts and views. These freedoms, while universally advocated, must be guaranteed through action. This is especially true for the most vulnerable of our society - rural women and girls, women and girls with HIV and women and girls with special needs. No one must be left behind. Prejudicial attitudes, gender stereotypes, including the ones portrayed in the media, and patriarchal social norms in society continue to be wide-spread.


International Women’s Day is a day to reaffirm that there cannot be social and economic progress without empowering women and girls. These changes will require innovation and smart decisions. To highlight the role that many women in Kazakhstan play in­­­ areas ranging from politics to sciences and culture as well as to bridge the gender gap in the digital space, the United Nations in Kazakhstan is joining the global Wiki4Women campaign.


Enabling women and men, girls and boys to innovate, think smart and to be truly equal requires gender-friendly policies, sharing of responsibilities within the household and recognition of the crucial role that education of women and girls, especially in STEM, reproductive health, women's empowerment and gender equality play as pathway to sustainable development. Only societies that are prepared to embrace and work towards true equality for all, will see a country that has an energetic and sustainable future.


Gender equality and the empowerment of women are the heart of the Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are vital to fully realizing the rights and potential of all persons. Transformative gender equality requires all of us to move beyond individual self-improvement and towards transforming unequal gender relations by investing in women, encouraging and bringing to reality the requisite required changes in social norms, cultural values, power structures and the root causes of gender inequality and discrimination.


Gender equality and the empowerment of women are integral parts of all aspects of the work of the UN in making the world safer through the development of stronger institutions and just societies. Through its various projects and initiatives, UN Kazakhstan seeks to realize the true potential of women of Kazakhstan, to have their voices and opinions heard and to make women economically, socially, politically empowered, contributing to an equal and sustainably developed Kazakhstan. We are convinced that only with this, the world and Kazakhstan can achieve the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, as represented by 17 Sustainable Development Goals.