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Kazakhstan and its Women

International Women's Day is a public holiday in Kazakhstan, and while happy bloggers-office workers get a break from their offices and blogs, congratulate their mothers, wives and daughters, we are presenting the latest roundup of blog entries by women and about them.

On Beauty

Slavoyara, a blogger and photographer from Pavlodar, has won the title of the most beautiful woman among the owners of Livejournal in a competition organised by blogger megakhuimyak. Congratulations!

She writes (RUS):

I am strict when in comes to assessing a woman's beauty: yes, there are physically attractive and non-attractive women. But this is not a criterion for assessing personality… Beauty is just a promise of happiness, as someone said.

On Work


Photo by Kamneed, from People at Work series

There are 2.247 legal migrants from Kazakhstan in the Czech Republic. Leila of neweurasia met a girl, whose family does not comprise the statistics: migrants from Taraz in the South of Kazakhstan, who preferred illegal work abroad to being at home, in a country, which boasts huge economic development.

On Foreign Husbands

Aksai, the city on oil-fields in Western Kazakhstan, is full of Western workers. Some local girls, according to Aiman, hope to get married to one of them in their longing for a better life:

A girl … was sitting next to me [in a mini-bus]. Like thunder in clear sky she began to chatter with slender voice…: “Foreigners are better than Kazakhs and Russians, they are polite and well mannered, they don’t know how to swear and don’t steal!” To say that I was taken aback isn’t even going to cover it. With astonishment, I was examining her face, and wondering where she came from. I wanted to answer, but she continued: “they even treat women better, than the Soviet men; I wish to marry a foreigner”.

Aiman lists some common myths that surround the foreigners in Kazakhstan, and being married to one herself, Aiman tries to dispel them.

She writes:

For some reason, my relatives decided that I’m getting married to a millionaire and asked him to pay “kalym” (traditional “payment” for a bride) with a helicopter, for grandpa, since he is old and a veteran of World War II and apparently it’s hard for him to take a bus. For you, it may be funny, but it wasn’t funny for my relatives, and especially for my grandpa who really hoped to “sell” his granddaughter for a helicopter. And then I understood that I have to save my future husband from the “claws” of my relatives, or else something bad might happen. When my grandpa found out that he won’t get a helicopter, and that a maximum on what my relatives can count on is a bicycle, they were really upset, and didn’t even try to hide it.

When my aunt found out that a foreigner is coming to visit, she started panicking, and the first question she asked was: “What does he like to eat”. I asked her not to worry about it, and just serve “normal” food. When we came, everybody looked at him like he was some sort of exotic bird or something. Everybody tried to touch and feel him, and what do you expect? It’s the first time they see a live foreigner! They also with curiosity watched him eat foods that were on the table. First thing that my aunt asked me was: “Did you starve him?”

Aiman also writes how Kazakh hospitality proves to be a challenge for an unexperienced foreigner:

My husband didn’t even suspect it was possible to eat, drink and not sleep in such amounts and so often. At first he really liked eating with his hands, say toasts and “cheers”, and just sit there, smile and practice his little knowledge of the Russian language. But just imagine his astonishment when my mom set the table again at 2 o’clock in the morning and once again, they started to say toasts, drink and sing! He was sick a whole week afterwards, from indigestion and a huge amount of vodka.

When Kazakhs and foreigners get really drunk, they can understand each other without a translator. I’ve seen it happen a lot of times, but the funniest time was when my cousins got their brother-in-law really drunk with vodka and beer. When he came home, he could barely stand up, but he could clearly talk and asked me “kal kalai?” (“how are you” in Kazakh) and not waiting for my answer answered himself: “zhaksy!” (“good!”). He also learned a new Russian phrase: “Beer without vodka is wasted money!”

As a word of wisdom to other girls who think life with a foreinger is a paradise, she writes:

There are a lot of myths about foreigners and their lifestyles, and, sadly because of the inability to “see the world” our people look at them as something invincible. There are a lot of stereotypes; a lot of them started a long time ago, at the time of the Soviet Union and you can’t do anything about them. Remembering that girl from the mini-bus, I think about how many young girls coming to Aksay hope to find their happiness with a foreigner, some do, some, find disappointment, and some, like me, understand that in the end it’s important to be happy.”

On Politics

KUB writes about the most influential woman in Kazakhstan: Dariga Nazarbayeva, a daughter of the President (RUS):

Despite the obvious Oriental mentality, there are women in Kazakhstani politics too. The current government has three female ministers. Out of 116 deputies – 10 are women… The most vidid and famous politician is the deputy from the Mazhilis (the lower house of Parliament), Dariga Nazarbayeva.

Nazarbayeva does not miss a chance to underline her “ordinariness”, trying to ignore her status as the “president's daughter”. Though rumour has it, she knows her role in the presidency. Thus, people who know the “behind the scenes” in Astana, say that Dariga managed the election campaign of her father in 2005. In public, she, on behalf of her Asar party, offered all pro-government political parties to create a common coalition to nominate one candidate – Nursultan Nazarbayev.

In the last years they started talking about Dariga as the most likely successor of Nazarbayev in 2012, when his last, according to the Constution, term ends. And though Dariga has repeatedly said that she has no presidential ambitions, more and more often the analysts and even the lobbyists name her as a possible successor. The latter think it is possible that the system of governance would change in a way that all power mechanisms would be held by the Head of the senate. This could be Dariga Nazarbayeva.

On Feminism

LJ user tropical_rat started tutoring for tests of English in Astana, Kazakhstan. He posts his thoughts on feminism and how it is taken in Kazakhstan:

I was talking about feminism with one student and it occurred to me that the highly useful formulation that “feminism is the belief that women are people too” is not accurate. I got grilled on this one; if that's the case then why do anything? Where is the problem? I propose that feminism in fact entails three propositions:

1) Women are people too, and thus entitled to all rights, status, and privileges that every member of society enjoys, including political, social, legal and economic rights.

2) Historically, women have been denied these rights or access to these rights by institutions and/or individuals.

3) This constitutes an injustice which should be addressed.

And it is the last two that many Kazakhstanis have issues getting behind. The 3rd proposition particularly, because what we call injustice, they call the natural order of things.

  • Hamid Tehrani

    I looked at the blog, are there only about 10 candidates?

  • Pingback: Transblawg

  • http://ru.kazakhstan.neweurasia.net/ Leila

    Hamid Tehrani,

    yes, only those who sent their photos to a blogger who organised the competition.

  • Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Haitian Women Talk Feminisms

  • Nurjan

    “A girl … was sitting next to me [in a mini-bus]. Like thunder in clear sky she began to chatter with slender voice…: “Foreigners are better than Kazakhs and Russians, they are polite and well mannered, they don’t know how to swear and don’t steal!” To say that I was taken aback isn’t even going to cover it. With astonishment, I was examining her face, and wondering where she came from. I wanted to answer, but she continued: “they even treat women better, than the Soviet men; I wish to marry a foreigner”.

    — This is really sad. This is not sincere. Looking for any wealthy foreigner to get marry. That lady doesn’t respect herself, how would she expect a men to respect her. This is a prostitution to some extend. If I were a foreigner working in Aksai and meet girls with attitudes like that, I would think kazak women are prostitutes. Shame on you girls, where is your pride? How do you think we should look at you after that, how do you think we should treat you?

  • Kymbat

    I would like to reply to Nurjan.
    Nurjan I think you are Kazakh boy and I am Kazakh girl…And I was reading your comment about that lady this is really sad.Those words what you wrote : This is not sincere. Looking for any wealthy foreigner to get marry. That lady doesn’t respect herself, how would she expect men to respect her. This is a prostitution to some extend. If I were a foreigner working in Aksai and meet girls with attitudes like that, I would think Kazak women are prostitutes. Shame on you girls, where is your pride? How do you think we should look at you after that, how do you think we should treat you?
    Yes I am with you at that point that if lady doesn’t respect her self man will not either, but I am really refuse to accept those words that : I would think Kazak women are prostitutes. Shame on you girls, where is your pride? How do you think we should look at you after that, how do you think we should treat you? How can you think like that?
    How could you write like that look if you (we) Kazakh people don’t respect each other what do you think somebody going to do that for us? How can we judge people like that with strong words? We don’t have right to do that. We have to respect each other, and we have to respect our gender it doesn’t matter if you are female, male, fat, or thin I want to tell you that WE ARE EAQUAL. And how Leila pointed out that now females’ are politics too, it is true, but still we have those women who still think like that lady in the bus. It is really disappointed me, but even thought I think we can stop it and if people will change their mine I thin we can be better than before, we strong enough to improve our self. And from that I want to tell that a lot of women thinks like that lady, and we don’t have to ignore that or just comment like that, we have to look forward and think what could we do to stop it or to improve. We have to start doing something not just judge someone. And finally we will be at that point where we can say that: YES WE DID IT!!! And I really hope that one day we will tell that.
    Than you .

  • Kafkas Kartalı

    ı hate Kazakh girls!thy r nt fit!

  • Kymbat

    Hello everybody!!!
    And specialy to Kafkas Kartali, You know I am kazakh girl and I AM PROUD of that!!! I dont know why you said that , but it is your Decision .
    And you can think what you wants, and i would like to add that I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST and i hope that one day you will change your mine!!!!:)
    Kymbat Berkalieva

  • yusuf lawal

    i want 2 know life style in trinidad nd tobago most except lly re the married 2 foreigner

  • R.Ortega

    I’m Mexican American and had the privilege to work in Tengiz for 3 yrs. and it was the best experience I had of working with another nationality. The Men and Women there were the best. Of course like any other race there are bad people, but the people that I call my Friends and some I even consider my Brothers and Sisters. I thought that it was the most Beautiful thing that the younger generation thought of their Families well being and many were the sole providers for the Families. Many here in America only think of themselves and only wait to see what the Parents give to them. I Truly admire them for that. I truly believe that the Kazakh Women are the most intellegent women I know. Just very sad that they are not recognized and appreciated for their knowledge but only noticed for their Beauty. If I could start my life over again I would only Marry a Kazakh Woman because of their strong Family beliefs and the way they care for their Husbands. The Men that I know are very respectful and I treated them with respect and I never had any problems. I could understand their feelings about Foreigners working in their Country disrespecting their Cultural and the Women. I hope for someday to return and be with my Friends again. But I could see that great Country will be Worldwide respected because of their contribution to mankind by their younger generation in the Future.

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