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.


  • Kymbat

    Hello everybody and specially R.Ortega,
    I was reading your message and I want to say THANK YOU for your beautiful comment. I really appreciate that.
    Thank you

  • alibek

    kazakh tili tirligimning tynysy,Abylaidin kylyshy
    Osy sozde jatyr tagdyrymnin bir ushy,
    Kazakh tiliding maselesi mulde tipte maz emes,
    Bayagy kazakh halky kemiske ketken emes
    Kyzyng ketti ashyk bo’gse, biyk o’kshe jymyngdaidy aksha korse, ar namys kaldy tapatu, ananyng ak Suti jatkkkan jok tu’kte aktalyp,
    Naizaning u’shymen kylyshtyng ju’zimen korgap edi kairan babam.
    Sol engbekterin aktamagan kazagym, tilim,dinim salt dasturum ku’ru’p barady.
    Aiman did u think before to write ur coments about my Kazakh nation? U are trying to answer for all Kazakh people, like Kazakh girls prefer foreign people, do u know how much the Kazakh people nowadays? So if girls will marry to foreigners sure the kids of that girl will be other nationality right?
    I agree with Nurjan, but he was lil bit route with, however, u told that everybody was looking to ur husband, in this case u r showing that kazakhs are wild, u r put down ur nation, u r not proud to me a kazakh, If u would, u. Did not to marry to foreign man. Don’t tell that u Kazakh, I’m really dissoponted on Kazakh girls.

  • ZSHA

    Hey! I married a foireigner, I am a kazakh girl. it is funny that my parents tried to get kalym from him also, cus my husband is really rich and everyone tried to get smth from him:-) Maybe it is right maybe no, i dont know. I just know that in iskam there is no kalym. So my husband did not pay.

  • Marco

    Hi, my name is Marco from Italia,well..i read all on this site,and i was curios about stories between kzk girls and foreinger guy’s….and not all stories have a good end, like mine,i been in Atyrau some years ago for job,than i meet the most beautifull woman i ever see in all my life, we start our story and like magic, we been in deep love, u know when ur half part think something and u replay…or opposit….we was like that we find each other…well when all start be perfect, my company transfer me in italia for new project,and i try what is possible to do, even she work in kzk, 2-3 time per year i invite her in italia, or we been in Istanbul for some time , u know..to stay together cause we really love eachother, but problems start when my ex did’t whant give divorce (till today!!!!), this mean that i can’t merried the woman of my life,the one!!, wll after more than 3 years, we still fighting now are almost two year that we no meet,cause job…distance…crisis…and soo on, but we still write sms,email, facebook or skype, we done and doing everything to be back again, THIS IS LOVE….. i just whant share with you my mind/trouble, and that there is nothing more strong than 2 lovers,….

  • Satrajit Banerjee

    Kazakh Girls prefer financial security more than emotional bonding. They look out for wealthy expatriate or old successful Kazakh businessman as partner rather than a love-match. This is my personal experience

  • TC Denizcan Dede

    This article is misinforming imo. “Marriage with Westerners” may be a trend or wish for Aksai only perhaps(even I doubt it) but Kazakhs would HARDLY allow such mixed marriages. Most Kazakh men and women are grew up with this consicious, even Kazakhs living in Russia(Omsk, Astrakhan, Orenburg) only marry with Kazakhs.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site