Women That Are Free to Choose, a booklet summarising extensive grassroots advocacy work of women workers and women human rights defenders that resulted in lifting the ban on employment of women in over 200 jobs in Kazakhstan, marks the one year anniversary of this rare advocacy victory.
Behind each of its paragraph lies an enormous amount of visible, and even more so, invisible work of different women: experts, lawyers, human rights advocates, researchers, activists, journalists, diplomats, and, of course, women workers themselves and many more others.
In 2018, proposals to revoke the ban from the labour legislation encountered great resistance at all levels and required considerable effort before they were put into law.
Nonetheless, in October 2021 the list was fully lifted with no reservations.
It is important to acknowledge that lifting the legal ban took place within the context of the government’s selective implementation of recommendations on women’s rights by international bodies, state co- optation, and paternalistic approach to gender equality.