Kazakh Family Survey Explores Gender Roles, Institution of Fatherhood and Women’s Role in Preventing Corruption

ASTANA – Kazakh families maintain traditional gender roles in the family, there is prevalence of civil partnerships over official marriages, and parents have less time to spend with their children, according to the Kazakhstan’s Families 2022 national report, issued on Feb. 1. 

The national report Kazakhstan’s Families 2022, issued on Feb. 1. Photo credit: Adobestock.com.

The Kazakhstan Institute of Social Development conducted a sociological study and a mass survey of 1,200 individuals from 17 regions and three cities of significance. A previous study of this kind was undertaken in 2020.

Marriage in Kazakhstan 

According to the report, men and women in Kazakhstan prefer traditional gender roles in the family, in which a man is the head of the family and women are responsible for household duties. Men are more often responsible for the material support of the family, whereas women’s labor is not generally viewed as a significant contribution to the family budget.

Parents in Kazakhstan perceive that both mother and father should partake in familial obligations, which is a positive trend. Respondents said they frequently share responsibilities such as organizing the children’s spare time, driving children to kindergarten, school, and sports sections, and taking them to the doctor.

The average age of a mother at the birth of her first child in Kazakhstan is 25.2 years, which is significantly lower than in Western countries such as France (30.8), Germany (30.1), and the United Kingdom (29.1). The report notes, among other things, that no normative legislative act regulates demographic policy issues. In addition, the authors suggest the government should establish a state organization in charge of demographic policy to assess the country’s progress.

The report revealed a decrease in the official marriage rate in recent years and a rise in civil marriages, while nearly 80 percent of respondents view divorce negatively. 

In 2019, the share of respondents in civil partnerships was 2.9 percent. Three years later, this share surged to 5.8 percent. This is partly attributable to the prevalence of unregistered marriages, socioeconomic circumstances, and an increase in the average age of marriage.

The legislative framework for protecting children and women’s rights in civil marriages should be significantly updated, according to the authors. Suggestions are also made to strengthen the system for recalculating alimony to minor children and to remedy loopholes in protecting civil marriage spouses’ rights.

Family relations in Kazakhstan

The report discovered that parents’ time spent with their children has reduced over the last three years, owing primarily to increased workload at work and home. Currently, 38.6 percent of parents cannot spend much time with their children. The indicator of regular pastime with children is unevenly distributed between men and women, with 44.5 percent for women and 25.6 percent for men.

According to the report, grandparents are still heavily involved in raising and caring for children in Kazakhstan. Around 90 percent of respondents favor grandparents’ involvement in children’s upbringing, indicating that older family members positively impact the formation of values and a sense of respect for elders.

The preference of parents for nonviolent methods of raising children (84.8 percent) has been identified as a positive trend in Kazakh families. 

The institution of fatherhood

For the first time, the report reviewed the institution of fatherhood, one of the top priorities for the country’s family and gender policies. Kazakhstan’s concept of family and gender policy until 2030 includes a conscientious attitude to parenthood and involved fatherhood to strengthen the father’s role in raising a child, which can reduce the number of single-parent households.

The Union of Fathers has been active in Kazakhstan since 2012. This is a public association that has 100 registered members. The organization’s goal is to encourage fathers to actively participate in raising children alongside mothers.

According to the report, 54.1 percent of respondents believe the father’s role as the family’s primary breadwinner is more vital than involvement in raising children. Regarding the positive trends in the institution of fatherhood, more than 75 percent of respondents think the relationship between children and fathers is now more trustworthy than before. More than half of those polled (60 percent) think a father can care for a small child and run a household just as well as a mother. 

According to the report, fathers’ involvement in raising children is critical even after the divorce. The survey results show roughly 81 percent of respondents agree that whatever relationship the spouses have after separation, a mother should not limit children’s communication with a father. This indicates that society recognizes the positive influence of the institution of fatherhood, states the report. 

The risk of losing the family’s financial income is considered an impediment to fully realizing the institution of fatherhood. Men in Kazakhstan are more likely than women to offer financial assistance to the family. Only 3.1 percent of families rely solely on a woman for financial support. In 45.8 percent of cases, both partners shared financial responsibilities.

The impact of gender on the prevention and fight against corruption 

Another important topic covered by the report for the first time was the impact of gender on corruption prevention. 

According to the United Nations, social measures that integrate women into the public sphere and make information about public services broadly available can be essential in minimizing the impact of corruption. 

Women’s active participation in improving public services and developing more general social policies to empower women’s potential by establishing possibilities in the labor market can be an effective strategy in the prevention and fight against corruption.

The report also addressed stereotypes in men and women, creating a vicious cycle when a woman limits herself only to particular roles. According to the poll results, men are more likely than women to hold gender preconceptions about women’s political participation. Only 13.5 percent of men, against 29.6 percent of women, believe women should have a higher political representation. This is a significant issue because men typically have greater resources and influence in political circles, which can result in the establishment of a glass ceiling, a barrier to women’s political advancement.

Female officials are twice as likely as men to record corruption facts, according to foreign studies referenced in Kazakhstan’s report. According to the report data, Kazakh women prioritize transparency and adherence to the law. Women’s empowerment in the political sector, with their intrinsic support for the concepts of equality and considering the interests of all groups, would have a progressive impact on preventing corruption in the medium term, reads the report. 

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