Restaurant Chain in Kazahkstan Becomes First WEPs Signatory in Central Asia


The largest restaurant chain in Kazakhstan has become the first organization in central Asia to sign up to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).

The WEPs were launched by the United Nations Global Compact and UN Women in 2010, after a year-long international consultation, to provide guidance to businesses on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The WEPs emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. They are based on real-life business practice and advice from across the globe.

Askar Baitassov, the CEO of AB Restaurants, which employs 850 people, signed up to support the WEPs in Almaty on 8 November 2016. He said: “When we looked at our company’s composition, we realized that 80 % of our employees are women. Our company is successful thanks to women. Managing a company is about managing talents, which can be implemented only if there is no place for prejudice and discrimination.”

Two of the top managers at the restaurant chain are women. However, according to the World Bank, 44.2% of small and medium-sized businesses, but only 4.2 % of large corporations in Kazakhstan are headed by women; the gender wage gap is 33%. Women and men tend to do different types of work, with women occupying lower levels of the labour hierarchy. Some 70% of workers in the health, education and social services are women, with many women having to work outside the home, but also taking care of their children and household chores.

Elaine M. Conkievich, UN Women Representative to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, said: “Gender equality is not the prerogative of NGOs, Government and international organizations. Companies should also engage in promoting gender equality. That’s why UN Women and the UN Global Compact initiated WEPs. We commend ABR’s commitment to be a champion of gender equality among businesses in central Asia.”

AB Restaurants have also joined the HeForShe Campaign, a solidarity campaign for the advancement of women initiated by UN Women, and are planning to support WEPs in several ways. The company is particularly keen on its sixth principle – Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy. Its campaign will cover:

  • Prominent Kazakh bloggers, opinion leaders and journalists speaking up for gender equality
  • Public service announcements being circulated online and in the cinemas of Kazakhstan
  • Media platform Buro 24/7 dedicating a month to gender equality, with articles, interviews, on gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • Brochures with gender-equality statistics being distributed among ABR’s 20 restaurants, which serve 75,000 people every month

The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs)

In brief, the WEPs aim to:

  1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
  2. Treat all women and men fairly at work - respect and support human rights and non-discrimination
  3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
  4. Promote education, training and professional development for women
  5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
  6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
  7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality

To learn more about the WEPs, click here 

Photographer & Videographer Credit: AB restaurants

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  • Great news, congratulation to the Empower Women Team!  Keep up the great work!
  • Lindiwe mlalazi
    Very inspiring!! Reading stories like this gives me hope for the future 
  • Basant Hussein
    very Inspiring!
    #EmpowerWomenRally #EWChampion4Change 
  • Karuna Parajuli
    This is a very good intiative. Much appreciated. 
  • Srishti Bakshi
    Should be published to all corporates as best practice. This is awesome! 
  • Valentine Kamau
    very Inspiring! Way To go 
  • Shalini Prakash
    So inspiring!! I really hope to bring this to India
  • Ogbeyalu Okoye
    Amazing work WEP! Promoting gender equality, hope to see many more chain businesses owned by women!
  • Wonjeong Chae
    Great news! Hope to see more businsess owners who are involved in gender equality and empower women movement. 
  • Rupande Mehta
    This is phenomenal! I think the chain can take it one step further and crate safe spaces for dates that aren't going so well. Sometimes women being abused have no way out but may sometimes get to go to the restaurant with their abuser. It's a good way to have a chain create a safe space for them too. Like the ask for Angela at the bar or to a waiter and they know what to do. 

    Just a thought. 
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