Istileulova Yelena, Fulbright, MBA
(KIMEP’s Center for Research and Development CRD),
Mara Seitova, Svetlana Shakirova
(Center of Gender Studies)
Gender trends in the labor market of Kazakhstan
Gender issues have become the focus of a lot of research in industrial countries. In comparison much less is known about gender issues in transition economies, especially in the countries of Central Asia.
Despite Kazakhstan being a leading country in this direction compared with other Central Asian countries, there are no gender economic analysis papers or books published so far in the field of Labor market studies. Gender economics courses or seminars are not delivered in Universities or in any other institutions. Moreover, it seems that there may be reluctance from the side of many Institutions to introduce courses related to gender aspects. This may be due to the absence of demand in the market.
There have been many changes in the labor market during the years of independence in terms of gender aspects. Prior to the economic transition, individuals were required to work if able and as a result, unemployment was officially eradicated. Both men and women had equal access to job opportunities. However, during the period of economic restructuring the work requirement is no longer enacted, and as a consequence unemployment has become a very painful feature.
Many enterprises experienced wage arrears and many others enterprises - shut down. The transition period of the 1990s in the Republic of Kazakhstan was characterised by large-scale emigration and the emergence of new types of labor migration flows: labor and irregular migration, refugees and flows of internally displaced people, commercial (“shuttle”) trade, foreign-licensed labor and cross-border and seasonal migration. Many differences between men and women on the labor market, such as those in income, educational attainment, can be observed and measured.
The comprehensive economic reform program affected men and women differently. Some of the effects are indirect. A move from central planning to a market economy changed the labor market payoffs to education, for example, which could affect men and women differently. Trade liberalization changed the composition of labor demand and hence the gender structure of employment. The Labor market in Kazakhstan is characterised by gender disproportion. Stabilization in the real sector of the economy and in the financial market has positively influenced men’s incomes. According to the data published by the Agency of Statistics, an average income of women calculated in all sectors of economy in the year 2002 was registered at the level of 61.5 % from similar income of men. Access and control over the economic resources for women are still at a minimum level. Trade liberalization has a direct impact towards deepening gender segregation. Women are not accepted to the highly-paid positions or to jobs with a high salary (phenomenon of the “glass ceiling”), moreover, the process of their exclusion is going on.
Horizontal professional segregation defines an uneven distribution of men and women by the sectors of economy and professions. In this context, Kazakhstani women are concentrated in the following spheres: health and social services (83%), education (77%), hotel and restaurant business (75%), financial sector (66%). Men are employed in construction (81%), agriculture, hunting and forestry (77%), fishing (74%), mining (75%), energy (72%), transport and communication (67%), processing (64%) and public administration (60%).
Vertical segregation means an unequal distribution of men and women in the job hierarchy. This phenomenon is demonstrated by the fact, that 76% of top-managers’ positions in the government bodies belong to men, whereas the proportion of women in the local administration is more than 54%. Women politicians’ share does not exceed 9% in the local and 11% in the central bodies.
The most evident predominance of men’s personnel is in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (84%), Agency on Investments (65%), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection (62%). The most typical regions in terms of regional gender differences are South-Kazakhstani (70%), Jambyl (60%) and Kzyl-Ordinskaya (58%).
For women it is much more difficult to remain in a paid job in comparison with the men. The ratio for unemployed women and men is 60:40. Thus, a weak competitive position of women is seen not only in the reduction of their employment, but also in the concentration in low-paid industries.
In conclusion, the data suggests that in Kazakhstan women’s experience in the labor market is substantially different from men’s: women work in different sectors, for fewer hours of paid work, have higher rates of schooling and literacy, are less likely to be self-employed and more likely to be unemployed, underemployed or outside the labour force.
Back to Home Page