Participants at the Almaty 29 January townhall meeting stressed the need for inclusiveness and respect for the rights of the most vulnerable
The need to ensure respect for human rights for all citizens of Kazakhstan was among the key concerns raised by participants at a townhall meeting organized by the Kazakh authorities and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Almaty on 29 January.
Nearly 100 civil society and youth activists, private sector representatives and government officials attended the meeting which was held to stimulate discussion on the future development agenda in Kazakhstan and define priorities for the time after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015.
Many participants spoke about the importance they attach to respect for human rights, especially relating to the most vulnerable groups in society such as imprisoned people, migrants, people with disabilities, and those living below the poverty line.
For example, speaking about the situation of the many labour migrants in Kazakhstan, one participant said a rights-based approach is needed with regard to access of migrants to health services.
Another participant pointed out that Kazakhstan still faces challenges in achieving the second objective of MDG 5, universal access to reproductive health: “Special efforts need to be made to ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services for young people, and especially for adolescent girls. We should not forget that it is the young people who are our future.”
According to recent data, about one in ten Kazakhs does not have access to family planning. Every year, more than 10,000 girls aged 15 to 19 years give birth, and the number of abortions among teenage girls is likely to be significantly higher.
The need to make progress on gender equality was also brought up at the meeting, including with regard to eliminating wage differences between women and men. “The economic vulnerability of women is also determined by their over-representation in the self-employment category with lower wages and larger social vulnerability,” said one of the attendees.
Youth representatives highlighted the need for the integration and active participation of young people in all spheres of society. “As the future leaders we are eager to exploit our full civic potential starting today and participate in all social and political processes,” remarked one of the young participants.
The problems associated with population ageing and the rapid growth of non-communicable diseases were also among the concerns highlighted at the meeting.
Kazakhstan is among the six countries in Europe and Central Asia where the UN organizes national consultations on the post-2015 development agenda.
Speaking at the event, Nikolai Botev, the Director of UNFPA’s Sub-Regional Office for Central Asia and acting UN Resident Coordinator in Kazakhstan, stressed that in the consultations on the post-2015 agenda “every voice counts and must be heard,” adding that participants voiced an inspiring vision of inclusiveness and respect for the rights of the most vulnerable.