Superheroes Among Us: UN in Kazakhstan Presents Exhibition Dedicated to Strong, Independent Women on Frontline of COVID-19 response

NUR-SULTAN – Determined, charming and courageous. This is how the superwomen are described in the United Nations (UN) photo exhibition dedicated to women on the frontline of the COVID-19 response in the Kazakh capital. 

Photo credit: UN in Kazakhstan.

The event is held as part of the 16 Days of Activism – a part of the Gender Violence against Women global campaign and the 75th Anniversary of the UN. 

The exhibition features 15 superheroes’ stories to demonstrate the energy and contribution of those who continued to help other people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these women are doctors, volunteers, activists, journalists and influencers such as Adel Orazalinova, Dina Smailova, Saida Taukeleva, Elena Bilokon and other enthusiasts. 

“Today we are celebrating the real superheroes,” UN Resident Coordinator in Kazakhstan Michaela Friberg-Story said during the opening of the exhibition. 

UN Resident Coordinator in Kazakhstan Michaela Friberg-Story (L) and UNFPA Representative in Kazakhstan Giulia Vallese.

“We celebrate the power of will, courage and strength. The faces you see in our exhibition are those of strong women from different backgrounds. They are medical researchers, volunteers, lawyers, journalists, mothers and sisters. All heroes in the fight against COVID-19… In the battle against COVID-19, we need more women calling the shots at the decision-making table. We need women in power to prevent worst-case scenarios from occurring. We need women to lead our children, our communities, our research and our response. We need women on the frontline,” she added. 

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported that many countries observed increased levels of violence against women becaues of the coronavirus outbreak. 

UNFPA Representative in Kazakhstan Giulia Vallese noted that “all the voices of these women deserve to be heard and listened to. By sharing our stories of resilience, courage and hard work, we want to share some positive messages about women’s empowerment and why gender equality is key to the well-being of society.”

One of the more touching stories put on display is about doctor Ademi Zhidebayeva who has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 since March 8. She has been working at the Almaty city hospital that provided services for pregnant women and women in labor who are positive for COVID-19. 

Ademi Zhidebayeva

Zhidebayeva recalled that during the pandemic she delivered 20 babies a day.

“When I was awarded the Khalyk Agysy (People’s Gratitude) award for my work during the pandemic, I was so surprised. After all, I did not do anything special and I do not consider myself a hero, because this is simply my job,” she said. 

The exhibition also highlights the activities of 14-year pupil Nargiz Nurmetova who dreamed of becoming a volunteer since childhood. She joined the League of Volunteers of Kazakhstan Public Fund a few months before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Nargiz Nurmetova

“I wasn’t glad that I managed to deliver food to only 20 war veterans in the first days of lockdown. But then I remembered the eyes of these people… Unfortunately, people help them once a year, on May 9. Therefore, they were truly happy when they knew we took extra care of them. I know that I have done a lot,” Nurmetova said.  

The exhibition was prepared by the UNFPA and a creative team consisting of actress Ainur Ilyasova, photographer Baurzhan Bismildin, director Vanya Abramov and journalist Oksana Vassilenko.

The exhibition will be held through Dec.15 at the Mega Silkway Shopping Mall (1st floor, hall at entrance E) and Dec.16-31 at the Nur-Sultan International Airport (domestic flights terminal). It is also available online www.womenincovid19.com

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