Child rights are the undoubted indicator of economic, social and political development.
Maria Calivis, UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Director, visits Kazakhstan
Astana/Almaty, 10-12 April 2006: Maria Calivis, UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Director, has completed a visit to Kazakhstan, including high-level meetings to discuss the situation of the country’s five million children, its progress in protecting their rights and the future direction of UNICEF programmes in the country.
At a meeting with the heads of leading ministries and institutions dealing with child rights, Ms. Calivis commented on the President’s 2006 Address to the People of Kazakhstan, in which he spoke of the nation’s ambition to join the list of the 50 most competitive countries.
“Alongside the development of this unique modernizing country with its rich potential, there is a feeling of complacency about the achievements made to date that does not allow the real problems facing children to surface,” she warned.
“The recent initiative of President Nazarbayev should mean the revision of many standards and approaches in the field of social policy towards women and children, as the competitiveness of any state is also measured by the well-being of its children.”
Alexandre Zouev, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan, added: “UNICEF looks forward to further cooperation with the Government and other UNICEF partners in rendering technical assistance and attracting the best foreign experts for the prompt introduction of international norms, standards and practices in the areas of mother and child well-being.”
Kazakhstan has achieved considerable progress in healthcare, education, social security and child rights protection. As Ms. Calivis stated, “There are problems, but there are also opportunities to improve social policy to support vulnerable families and children”.
Earlier this year, Kazakhstan created a Committee on Child Rights Protection under the Ministry of Science and Education, which is now coordinating the preparation of the country’s second regular State Party Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, due to be presented in Geneva on 10 September.
During her visit to Kazahstan, Ms. Calivis also discussed the country’s efforts to achieve Universal Salt Iodization to protect children against iodine deficiency and to tackle the anaemia that affects more than one-third of the population and half of all pregnant women and children under five. She commended a recent Government Instruction for the adoption of the WHO Life Birth Definition by 2008, which would bring the country into line with this internationally recognized standard.
She joined Mr. Zouev for meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs K.Tokayev, Minister of Education and Science B. Aitimova, Vice-Minister of Health A.Akanov, members of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan B.Tutkushev and S.Zhalmagambetova, as well the Ombudsperson B.Baikadamov.
Ms. Calivis also met representatives of regional and country missions of USAID, the World Bank, JICA, ADB and EU Commission, and attended a meeting of the UN Country Team to discuss joint projects to ensure the best interests of children.
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Ms. Gauhar Abdygaliyeva,