Exemplary Achievements: CAREC Gender Award Recognizes 11 Champions Across 10 Countries

Tbilisi, Georgia — In a milestone event, the inaugural CAREC Award for Advancing Gender Equality recognized eleven organizations and individuals from ten member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program in an Awards ceremony held in Tbilisi, Georgia on 29 November 2023 on the sidelines of the 22nd CAREC Ministerial Conference.

The CAREC Award recognizes their outstanding efforts in promoting gender equality, equal rights, and opportunities across daily life, workplaces, and communities. It underscores the commitment to acknowledge and honor those making significant strides in advancing gender equality within CAREC member countries. Notable Awardees include Gender Hub Azerbaijan for advocacy and capacity-building in women’s rights, the Women’s Information Center for consistent championing of gender equality in Georgia, and Waipula Village in Yunnan, the People’s Republic of China, acknowledged for its women-led eco-tourism initiative.

JSC Housing Construction Savings Bank (Otbasy Bank) in Kazakhstan was honored for its successful Umai mortgage program benefiting women, providing women with access to affordable housing, while the National Federation of Female Communities of the Kyrgyz Republic was recognized for combating gender-based violence, focusing on issues such as child marriage and bride kidnapping. Mongolia’s National Center Against Violence was commended for its contribution to establishing a comprehensive protection system for victims of violence; the Central Council of the Women’s Union of Turkmenistan received recognition for uniting over five thousand grassroots organizations with more than 880,000 women across the country; and “Nemolchi” Media Project from Uzbekistan were lauded for their impactful contribution in promoting women’s rights and reshaping public attitudes about violence against women.

Wonder Women, an international network operating in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Turkmenistan, received the regional category Award. Two remarkable women leaders were honored: Ms. Fauzia Viqar, a steadfast advocate for women’s rights and empowerment in Pakistan, and Ms. Manzura Asadova from Tajikistan, an activist supporting women and girls in vulnerable rural areas.

In her keynote address, Ms. Rachel Thompson, Executive Director at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), praised the transformative work of the Awardees in challenging gender norms, fostering inclusivity, and confronting discrimination and gender-based violence. The Awards ceremony, hosted by Georgian journalist Ms. Elene Kvanchilashvili, marked a celebration of achievements and a collective encouragement to persevere in the pursuit of gender equality.

The Awardees, carefully selected from over 200 candidates by a distinguished panel of jurors, are now declared as CAREC Gender Champions of 2023. This recognition grants them access to engage in various CAREC-organized gender events, providing networking opportunities and facilitating peer-to-peer exchange of best practices. Additionally, they will benefit from CAREC leadership coaching and mentorship programs.

The CAREC Award for Advancing Gender Equality stands as a pivotal initiative within the broader CAREC Program, launched in 2001. This program signifies a committed partnership of countries and development partners working collaboratively to foster development through regional cooperation in Central and West Asia.