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School for the Advancement of Gender Equality


University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Civil Society Initiative with support from the Government of Canada-funded Regional Programme, Foundations for Health and Empowerment (F4HE), and Advancing Gender Equity through Civil Society (AGECS) is establishing a School for the Advancement of Gender Equality (SAGE).

The key objective of the AGECS is to strengthen the capabilities of civil society organizations, women's groups, community leaders to advance the common good, especially gender equity, and better access to health and child protection in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. AGECS’s total budget is CAD $ 500,000 for the project duration of August 2021- March 2025.

Established in 2017, CSI is the only university-based programme in Central Asia focused on supporting civil society. CSI's mission is to promote a vibrant and capable civil society that actively contributes to the social and economic development, enhances people's capabilities with the freedom and ability to function properly as members of human society. CSI enriches development thinking by bringing to the foreground the importance of associational life in the well-being of communities and society, and civil society organizations as drivers of efforts to give people a voice on policy and governance. CSI aims to foster a more enabling policy and administrative environment for civil society's development, including measures that unlock the potential of philanthropy and private giving to support activities for public benefit. Within the framework of CSI, this endeavor aims to particularly focus is made on women’s voices, engagement and participation. 

About School for the Advancement of Gender Equality

Gender is mainstreamed throughout the all Sustainable Development Goals, while SDG 5 specifically calls on the States to: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

School for the Advancement of Gender Equality (SAGE) aims to support women's rights, gender equality and women-led organizations to strengthen their institutional competencies in a number of areas such as:

  • Gender equality and development, international agreements on gender equality, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and others.
  • Gender equality and cultural norms: how to strive for balance.
  • Building advocacy campaigns on emerging Gender Equality and Women Empowerment issues (GEWE) at the country level and across the region.
  • New approaches to monitoring and evaluation of gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) initiatives, national commitments, national legislation, programs and interventions based on evidence and latest data;
  • Building institutional capacities to address gender advocacy issues, the use of technology and social media in advocacy and building content on GEWE issues.
  • Role of women's rights, gender equality and women led organizations in strengthening community resilience and awareness of GEWE issues.
  • Strengthening institutional capacities for the development of gender vs advocacy projects and initiatives, learning to define project’s MELR framework (Monitoring and Evaluation, Learning and Results) as well as project reporting based on the internal project data.

The list of themes will be discussed and adjusted with programme participants to better respond to their organizational needs. Additionally, the programme will provide ongoing mentoring and support, as well as peer-to-peer exchanges with the women-led organisations across the Central Asia region.

Through SAGE, CSI will deliver a series of capacity-building activities for women's rights, gender equality and women led organizations. Combining these organizations from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the aim is to underscore the importance of using data in advocacy messaging and will lead to collaborative relationships after the workshops end. To recruit students for SAGE, CSI will widely promote an open call for interested applicants in two countries. Applicants should describe their motivation to apply and specify the gender-responsive and gender-transformative initiatives that they are involved in or through an ongoing advocacy project. CSI expects to enroll a cohort of 40-45 participants representing different organisations per cycle.

During the 12-months cycle, SAGE participants will have the opportunity to gain new knowledge and develop skills during each learning activity: regional kick off meetings, advanced advocacy workshop, advanced advocacy course, study tours visits, implementation of advocacy projects and final regional regional Forum on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

SAGE’s graduates with highest performance results will be eligible for small grants to undertake advocacy efforts on GEWE issues in their respective countries.


Through Advancing Gender Equity through Civil Society (AGECS), successful applicants for SAGE will be enrolled from October 2021 to September 2022 in the following series of capacity-building activities:

Region-Wide Policy Advocacy Workshop (November 2021)

CSI will convene a regional-wide policy advocacy workshop for selected participants from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The one-day kick-off workshop will be led by international experts who will present on how to leverage international commitments as part of effective advocacy campaigns on gender sensitive issues, along with mapping the most underdeveloped components of the gender advocacy ecosystem for each country. The workshop will be highly interactive and will also be an opportunity for participants to network and start designing their gender equality advocacy projects. 

Advanced Advocacy Course (AAC) (December-January 2021)

Following the region-wide policy advocacy workshop, participants will attend Advanced Advocacy Course that features courses tailored to policy areas important to SAGE members and are aimed at either improving ongoing advocacy initiatives or designing future campaigns. CSI will design and deliver an advanced curriculum organized at the country level. International and local instructors will deliver specialized training in stakeholder management, messaging, coalition building, policy engagement and co-creation, and risk management. The curriculum will be tailored to areas important to participants and will be aimed at improving ongoing advocacy initiatives and designing future campaigns.

Study Tours (March 2022)

CSI will sponsor one study tours per cycle for successful SAGE participants with high scores from AAC to meet regional counterparts in Kazakhstan and Eurasian counterparts in Ukraine to better understand their work and explore areas of potential cooperation. Study tours will be a great opportunity for participants to understand how gender advocacy campaigns and initiatives work in specific contexts, cultures and backgrounds, and what are the potential risks and ways to mitigate those. The tours will provide participants on both sides to establish informal peer networks, peer-learning and support platforms. The tours will be tailored to participants’ advocacy focused areas in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Gender Advocacy Grants (GAP) (April 2022)

To support gender advocacy projects, CSI, in close consultation with with Aga Khan Foundation within each country, will announce an open competition for small grants through social media, CSI will solicit gender equality related projects.

Applicants will need to articulate: how their initiative is contributing to the achievement of the SDG Goal 5, the desired impact of their initiative on national or local government policy in the field of GEWE, how they will assess specific changes or challenges across the gender landscape, or what advocacy practices they seek to pilot as part of those initiatives.

They will present a clear flow of activities (including public communication) and describe the project’s expected outcomes. CSI expects to award at least 10 advocacy projects over the course of Advancing Gender Equality through Civil Society (AGECS). During implementation of the advocacy projects, CSI will provide ad hoc expert technical assistance and travel support to enable robust government-CSO engagement. Similarly, CSI will closely coordinate and work with SAGE’s grant recipients to provide them assistance to enable their participation with Parliament members and committees, ministry working groups and similar consultative bodies. CSI plans to award $5000 within the duration of six months for 10 advocacy grants per cycle.

Regional Gender Advocacy Forum (September 2022)

Toward the end of each 12-month cycle, CSI will host a Gender Advocacy Forum,  one-day event will feature plenary sessions in which representatives from civil society, academia, think tanks and government representatives will have an opportunity to comment on and respond to the results of the gender advocacy projects and Advancing Gender Equality through Civil Society Program (AGECS).

Eligibility Criteria

The ideal SAGE applicant is an individual researcher or gender advocate, independent or affiliated with a non-profit legal entity such as civil society organization, think tank, community-based organization, registered network, university or research center based in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

To be considered for SAGE, all applicants must demonstrate:

  • Good understanding of gender equality issues.
  • Experience in implementing advocacy campaigns (at least 2-3 projects or initiatives be it at local or national level).
  • Organizational capacity to develop and implement project proposals, financial reporting and working with donors.
  • Experience in implementing initiatives and projects aiming at expanding equal opportunities for women and adolescent girls to training and education, health care, job opportunities, entrepreneurship activities, access to economic resources, others.
  • Experience in, knowledge of, and motivation to support promoting women in leadership positions (national level or local level) and ensuring equal opportunities for their growth and development.
  • Experience in using MS Office (i.e., Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Powerpoint, Word).
  • Google-Suite (Calendar, Docs, Forms, Gmail, Google Drive, Hangouts, Sheets, Sites, Slides).
  • Social Media and Online communication tools such as Zoom, Teams, Google Meet.
  • Reasonably stable Internet connectivity.
  • Fluent Russian, knowledge of English is an advantage.
  • Availability to participate fully in all programme activities both face-to-face (depending on the Covid situation) and online.
  • Optional: Experience and knowledge aimed at assisting in the development, compliance and implementation of new and existing laws and policies on gender equality, reviewing discriminatory nature, as well as changing social norms and practices towards greater respect for and implementation of equal rights of women.
  • Optional: (for advocacy organization representatives, where applicable): Membership in a professional or advocacy network led by women and have programmes with a high level of impact that includes various stakeholders, women's rights and gender equality.

University of Central Asia’s Civil Society Initiative is a diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization, which encourages all interested applicants, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation or identity, education, or disability, to apply.

Application Process and Deadlines

Candidates are requested to complete the Application Form: as part of the application process.

In addition, every application must include the following:

  1. Resume/СV – Maximum two (2) pages
  2. (Organizational Application Only) Overview of Relevant Organizational Past Performance – Maximum two (2) pages
  3. (Organizational Application Only) Applicant Nomination Letter – Maximum one (1) page

This letter must be signed by an authorized executive of the organization on company letterhead and nominate the applicant to represent the organization at the school.

All interested applicants must submit their application in English or Russian to no later than November 14, 2021 at 18:00 (Bishkek time).

All questions regarding the School for the Advancement of Gender Equality or the application process may be directed in writing to Aidana Ernestova, CSI officer (

The selection process is open and competitive, and participants will be selected based on the criteria outlined and applications should clearly address these points to be considered:

  • Clarity of the answers provided in the Application Form:
  • Relevance of the technical expertise and advocacy/gender policy analysis experience of the applicant/nominated participant.
  • (If applicable) Relevance of organizational experience.

If additional information or clarification on applications is needed, the applicant(s) will be notified in writing and will be asked to submit additional information and/or documentation.