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  • Participants from women-led and gender equality-focused CSOs in Kyrgyzstan meet virtually with international gender expert, Veronica Cretu, to exchange ideas about how to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable women in their communities.
University of Central Asia
UCA training improves livelihoods for women

The Civil Society Initiative (CSI) of the University of Central Asia (UCA) has launched a six-month online training programme to build a community of women practitioners who can share knowledge, experiences and practices in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 40 representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) from Kyrgyzstan are attending this online training, which was launched on 2 September 2020.

Entitled “Women’s Voices amid the COVID-19 Crisis”, the selected participants are winners of an online competition among women-led and gender equality-focused CSOs, who developed best ideas for improving the local health infrastructure to meet the needs of vulnerable women. Another objective is developing prevention measures and support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Women-led and gender equality-focused CSOs were selected by the Aga Khan Foundation, and will be awarded a small grant to implement their projects at the local level after they pass these courses. Apart from gaining new knowledge and skills, participants also get support and mentoring for drafting outlines of collaborative actions for COVID-19.

Veronica Cretu, an international gender expert, is leading the online workshop. She is a representative of the Participation Council to the UN, and Women Moldova and Global Woman Aspirational Award Winner of 2019. Ms. Cretu has considerable experience working in Central Asia on issues related to gender equality, open government, citizen engagement and open data. 

“Women’s Voices amid the COVID-19 Crisis” is a six-month online training project of UCA, funded by the Aga Khan Foundation and Global Affairs Canada, Foundations for Health and Empowerment, and Advancing Gender Equality and Civil Society. 


“The main goal of our project is to support pregnant, breastfeeding women and single mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We work with women from the remote Bash-Kayindy village of At-Bashy District in the Naryn region.” – Nurzida Monoldorova from the Women’s Council of Naryn City.

UCA is committed to working on empowering local communities as well as developing partnerships with government in building a better understanding of the role of civil society. Since 2017, UCA’s Civil Society Initiative has been fostering an enabling policy and administrative environment for civil society in Central Asia, and assisting the development of a broad spectrum of civil society actors.

Previously, CSI also organised a workshop on “Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data” in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The event was aimed at raising awareness of civil society organisations of the importance of Open Government Partnership (OGP), and strengthening the capacity of participants to monitor the implementation of the "Achyk Okmot" National Action Plan for 2018-2020 to build an Open Government in Kyrgyzstan. Since civic engagement is the keystone of OGP, CSI strives to support civil society actors to help them better use the OGP process, monitor implementation of Government’s commitments and promote their own advocacy agenda.

CSI’s initial geographical focus is Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, with a long-term goal to expand to other countries of Central Asia. Through extensive rural and urban outreach, it aims to facilitate an exchange of knowledge through community networks.

This text was adapted from an article published on the UCA website.