Benefitting from a wealth of natural resources, Kazakhstan has graduated to the ranks of a middle-income country. Oil and gas exports have allowed the economy to grow at a rapid clip, causing poverty rates to fall and enabling substantially increased spending on social programmes
Today, Kazakhstan has achieved the Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education — with secondary school attendance at 95.3 percent, adult literacy rates at 99.8 percent, and gender equality in primary and secondary education.
Millions of children of Kazakhstan enjoy rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Those benefits are to be expanded even further — to include those who are neglected or are marginalized because of a disability or HIV/AIDS.
Working with UNICEF, the government is putting into place measures to deal with a high infant, under-5 and maternal mortality rates. Despite the economic transformation taking hold, babies, young children and pregnant mothers are still exposed to risk.
All adolescents, no matter where they reside, deserve a future free from risk of contracting HIV infection; they are entitled to proper parental care and nutrition. Those with disabilities require enhanced access or rehabilitative services. Children are entitled to protection from exploitation and trafficking.
UNICEF’s goal is to work with the Government and all stakeholders to ensure the rights of all children enshrined in the CRC, which was ratified by Kazakhstan in 1994.
The CRC is the first international treaty signed by Kazakhstan as a new independent state. Since that time the government, supported by UNICEF, has prioritized child well-being by enabling them to survive and thrive – and to participate in decision-making. The young people of this great country are benefitting from increased government spending on social programmes.
The country’s progress towards achieving health outcomes is notable. We are pleased that today more than 92 percent of Kazakh households use iodized salt. Reducing the child mortality rate is another important step: in Kazakhstan it has been reduced by nearly 30% since 1999.
Yet there is still a ways to go. For example Kazakhstan’s maternal mortality rate puts it behind some other countries in the region.
Countries which recognize the importance of early child development place themselves in a stronger position to compete on a world stage. It lessons the future burden on their health systems.
Simply put – putting into place simple, affordable, proven and scalable child health practices translates into healthier, happier and more ready-to-learn children.
Kazakhstan’s strides towards making the CRC a tangible factor in every child’s daily life are impressive: the treaty is a living document in every sense of the word and has now been enshrined in legislation through 64 acts and directives.
All are in line with international standards and impact child health, education, labour and juvenile offenders. In addition, the government has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, granting children with disabilities equal rights.
UNICEF is supporting the government in the piloting of several local and national projects. An example is the de-instutionalization of traditional style orphanages. Bringing child-friendly concept to the government’s budgeting system is yet another way UNICEF is helping to secure a better future for all children.
Kazakhstan has traveled a long way in the fifteen years since the ratification of the CRC and the follow-up work needed to bring legislation in line with the treaty. UNICEF support to Kazakhstan is delivered over a wide spectrum, through four central programme areas: Child Health and Development; Child Protection; Young People’s Health and Development; HIV/AIDS; and, Social Policy Development and Participatory Governance.
UNICEF Kazakhstan is constantly developing innovative ways to make a better life for EVERY child in Kazakhstan. Working in concert with the government, partner NGOs and sister UN agencies, UNICEF works to ensure that no child is left behind.