Exhibition in Astana encourages anonymous sharing of stories on violence
November 23, 2023
As part of the international campaign "16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence", an interactive art installation titled "Untold" opened at the Nurly Zhol railway station in Astana. The idea behind this event is to shed light on often hidden and untold stories of violence and discrimination against women and girls in Kazakhstan.
The installation is designed to be shaped by its visitors. At the heart of the art space are private booths where exhibition attendees can anonymously write their stories or share thoughts on combating violence. These stories are then displayed on a public wall within the station hall. Consequently, each visitor contributes to the shared narrative of the exhibition, gradually turning it into a collective tale.
The exhibition is a collaborative effort by the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Kazakhstan, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Health Organization, UN Women, and the Spotlight Initiative, in partnership with the national railway carrier Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, to reinforce the importance of zero tolerance to violence. The Ministry of Culture and Information of Kazakhstan supported the event as part of their Gender Seal for Public Institutions journey.
“The UN's unwavering commitment to eliminating gender-based violence is rooted in the understanding that it is not merely a violation of human rights but a barrier to peace, security, and sustainable development. As we embark on this journey through "Untold" stories, let us be reminded of the United Nations' stance on eradicating gender-based violence worldwide,”stated Michaela Friberg-Storey, UN Resident Coordinator for Kazakhstan.
By bringing these stories of violence and discrimination to light, the installation aims to break the silence in society, acknowledge the strength and resilience of those who have endured violence, and provoke reflection on the role each of us plays in addressing this issue.
"Civic initiatives in the fight against violence are of great importance. Each of us must actively participate in change to protect the rights and freedoms of women and girls. It is crucial to create an atmosphere of 'zero tolerance' towards violence. I call for a concerted effort in this direction to ensure that the rights and safety of all women are a top priority,"stated Evgeniy Kochetov, Vice Minister of Culture and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan, during the opening ceremony.
Annually, one in every six women in Kazakhstan experiences violence. In 2022, there were 61,277 cases of domestic violence registered against women in Kazakhstan. According to the UNDP report "Gender Social Norms Index" more than 93% of citizens in Kazakhstan, both men and women, hold gender biases against women.
"As the United Nations Development Programme, we work closely with our national partners to support women and expand their economic opportunities through education programmes and business development. This is very important because women's economic independence enables them to avoid situations where they may be exposed to violence and gives them more opportunities for self-realization. We are committed to ensuring that women are well represented at the decision-making level, more competitive in the labour market, occupy leadership positions and work together to combat gender-based violence,"noted Katarzyna Wawiernia, UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.
The interactive installation will be open for two weeks and will conclude on December 10, which marks International Human Rights Day. The stories collected will be used by organizers in future information campaigns aimed at combating discrimination against women and girls.
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