21 September 2020
On 10 September 2020, the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office and Swiss ‘Adventure of Science’ initiative organized an online conference on Women and Glaciers in Central Asia, which focused on motivating women and girls by sharing their visions, and combat stereotypes of gender in science.The conference was open to the public and 50 people from Central Asia and Europe were in attendance. It was broadcast live on the UNESCO Almaty Office and the ‘Adventure of Science’ Facebook webpages, and reached approximately 1,500 viewers through Facebook. The event was divided into three sessions: Gender equality, Climate change and Environment Protection, and Citizen science projects, and attendees shared visions and knowledge for consideration during the time of COVID-19 crisis.
Specifically, the conference was opened by the session of gender equality, participants introduced the promotion of gender equality in UNESCO though natural sciences, and emphasized the importance of implementing career building programmes for women in Central Asia. Followed by the session of climate change and environment protection, the speakers shared their knowledge and practices on protecting the ecosystems in Central Asian states. Then, participants from Central Asia presented examples of how to bring science to society in the final citizen science projects session. At the end, following a discussion of information exchange, participants in the conference shared recommendations towards related barriers, summarized the discussions, and reached a consensus on holding the next ‘Women and Glaciers in Central Asia’ expedition.
The “Adventure of Science” initiative is led by the Swiss young women-researchers, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and works closely with the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office, the Paul Scherer Institute, the ‘Girls on Ice’ initiative and Central Asian Institute of Applied Geosciences (CAIAG).
In September 2019, the project organized a 7-day expedition to investigate the Golubin Glacier in Ala-Archa, Kyrgyzstan, which is composed of 15 women and aimed to popularize science among women. After completion, it was decided to conduct a second expedition in September 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the women and glaciers in Central Asia expedition was replaced by the online conference: Adventure of Science at Home.
As a follow-up to the conference, the UNESCO Almaty Office is currently developing a series of promising events, aiming to raise awareness about gender inequality in Science, and promote creative scientific work by reducing the gender gap in science. Stay tuned!