The Aga Khan Development Network notes that the University of Central Asia (UCA)’s School for the Advancement of Gender Equality (SAGE) provides training and a peer support platform for organizations, activists and others working in gender equality and advocacy. International experts share experiences and best practices from around the world, creating an active community for the future.

SAGE reportedly also allocates small grants to pilot innovative projects.  One recipient was the Initiative of Roza Otunbayeva Public Foundation, which promotes STEM amongst girls and women in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The Initiative is currently working with technical universities in Bishkek and Osh to assess the effectiveness of their communications with applicants.

Dogdurgul Kendirbayeva, the Initiative’s Executive Director, notes that “In 2019, the number of women applying for technical sciences was only a third that of men.  There is a low proportion of women in high-yield promising industrial sectors and girls are unprepared for the professions of the future.  It is at school that educational stereotypes are formed, which reduce girls’ motivation for acquiring STEM skills. It is necessary to pay attention to the oppressive role of social and pedagogical gender stereotypes, dividing schoolchildren into future ‘breadwinners’ and ‘housekeepers’, with all the consequences for their further education.”

UCA’s School for the Advancement of Gender Equality was launched by UCA’s Civil Society Initiative at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.

SAGE is funded by the Government of Canada, through Advancing Gender Equality through Civil Society (AGECS) under the Foundations for Health and Empowerment (F4HE) program.  AGECS has provided CAD 500,000 (US$ 393,275) to further enable civil society organizations, women's groups and community leaders to advance public goods, especially gender equality, improve access to health care and improve child protection in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.