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Kazakh Women Protest Officials' Failure To Keep Promises On Support

Women gather outside the Shymkent administration building on November 23.
Women gather outside the Shymkent administration building on November 23.

SHYMKENT, Kazakhstan -- Dozens of women in the southern Kazakh city of Shymkent have rallied to demand increased social allowances and state support for poorer families whose situations have been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The women gathered in front of the mayor's office on November 23 demanding the mayor come out and listen to their demands, which include higher welfare payments, improved housing, and cheaper and faster Internet for children who have switched to online classes because of the government's coronavirus restrictions.

Several employees of the mayor's office came out of the building to meet the women, but the protesters refused to talk to them, demanding the mayor meet with them and threatening to stay "night and day" until he comes out.

Police at the site prevented the women from entering the building.

Rallies and pickets by women with lower incomes have been held regularly in towns and cities across the Central Asian country, including the capital, Nur-Sultan, since February 2019 after five children from a single family died in a fire at night when their parents were out working. The tragedy triggered anger across the country and demonstrations where protesters demanded increased government support to families with several children.

Women at rallies this year have said that promises by central government and local authorities to support single mothers and poor families made after the deadly fire last year had not been kept.

The protests were held more frequently until restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus were introduced in mid-March.

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