6 марта 2024
Paolo Sorbello and Olga Loginova. Photo from Almaty TV.

Almaty Authorities Allowed a Conservative Group, Not Feminist Organizations to Hold a Women’s Day Rally

Activists have fought for their right to hold a feminist march for months

Almaty Authorities Allowed a Conservative Group, Not Feminist Organizations to Hold a Women’s Day Rally

A rally for International Women’s Day (IWD) will be ultimately held in Almaty, but not on March 8, and not organized by feminist groups. The mayor’s office of Kazakhstan’s largest city, in fact, will allow a pro-government, conservative organization to hold a rally on March 7 in Gandhi Park, a square near the city center.

Who is organizing what: Bibinur Sheraliyeva, the founder of Rahym, a foundation that helps “mothers of many children” and upholds “family values”, said on her Facebook page that the Almaty government had agreed to her request to hold a rally “in honor of March 8”. In an interview with Vlast, Sheraliyeva said she has invited speakers who will “raise the issue of women and children’s rights during divorce and to introduce legislative amendments on alimony.” She did not specify the names of the speakers.

Sheraliyeva told Vlast that each speaker would bring between 30 and 50 people in support.

Sheraliyeva, who is a member of a public council for the protection of children under the Amanat ruling party, has worked alongside the Association of Parents of Kazakhstan, whose leadership is known for their conservative and anti-vaccine views, as well as their position against feminist demonstrations and the so-called “LGBT propaganda”.

Context: Feminist activists from various organizations have been denied their applications to hold a rally on March 8 at least a dozen times. Zhanar Sekerbayeva, the co-founder of Feminita, that in previous years organized several marches and demonstrations for IWD, was not surprised that the government agreed to Sheraliyeva’s request and not theirs. [Read about the repeated attempts to hold a IWD march in Kazakh or Russian.]

“Instead of listening to demands made by grassroots activists, the government wants these demands to be either watered down or made by completely different people,” Sekerbayeva told Vlast.

“These attempts to take our people, our agenda, and our day away from us look pathetic.”

What are the precedents: That the local administration gave the green light to a pro-government organizer to hold a rally sounds eerily similar to a situation that occurred last November, when another pro-government organization set up a demonstration “against violence” on November 26, the day after the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Much like for this year’s IWD, feminist activists had applied to hold a rally but were denied permission.