Part of the: World Bank & Sexual Violence Research Initiative Project: ‘Combatting Sexual Violence in Kyrgyzstan through Innovative Education and Information Technology (Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia)’
Dr Elena Kim, Dr Elena Molchanova, Aigerim Bakubatova, and Dr Frank G. Karioris
This is the first project update from the World Bank and Sexual Violence Research Initiative Project: ‘Combatting Sexual Violence in Kyrgyzstan through Innovative Education and Information Technology (Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia)’. Based out of the Center for Critical Gender Studies at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA), this project will be ongoing for the coming year and a half roughly. With the aim of exploring and addressing sexual violence in Kyrgyzstan, the project undertakes the task with an acknowledgement about the scale and difficulty of the task at hand. With that said, the team is optimistic about our ability to encourage and create change. The World Bank’s and Sexual Violence Research Initiative’s belief and support of this project has encouraged us in our research and work.
The work on this project has begun over a year ago as a team was assembled from AUCA Faculty and gender experts in Bishkek. Fortune favors the bold, and the grant application was submitted with a bit of a whim and a prayer. As the team awaited an answer to the application, a variety of other developments were taking place.
In Fall 2016 a handful of AUCA student personally contacted the university President and asked him if it might be possible to have an academic program in Gender Studies. The President, Dr Andrew Wachtel, reached out to us and asked if it was possible. With an emphatic “Yes!” the program began taking life. Working through the curricular channels at the university, it became clear just how important and exciting the program was. At the end of the process, we now have an academic Minor in Gender Studies, as well as a Concentration for students who are Majoring in Liberal Arts & Sciences. These programs are the first establish academic programs in Gender Studies in Central Asia. The university community couldn’t be more excited about this. Through the development of the new academic programs, it became clear that the university also had an exceptional quantity of high quality researchers working on gender issues, so the Center for Critical Gender Studies was created. The Center will host an on-going lecture series, Visiting Research Fellows, as well as various research projects by AUCA faculty members affiliated with the Center.
These developments are not simply helpful for hosting this project, but are also part and parcel of the aims of the project. Our goals in the project relate directly to educating students and others in Kyrgyzstan about gender issues, and the academic programs and the research center will be driving forces in making this happen.
We are very excited about these developments, and look forward to continuing to update you regularly on the as the project moves forward.