GerKazNet supports UN initiative to promote Women in Science

International Day of Women in Science on February 11th

Science is viewed as a man dominated profession, as there is a certain gender gap in a research career. It is obvious that for women it is much more difficult to succeed in science. Women spend more time on housework and childcare than men. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, women make up only 30 percent of the world's researchers.

The German-Kazakh Network for Biosafety and Biosecurity (GerKazNet project), implemented by GIZ in close partnership with the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology (IMB), as part of the German Biosecurity Program, strives to contribute to the elimination of the gender gap and gender biases in science in Kazakhstan. The GerKazNet project supports talented young Kazakhstani women scientists by offering them opportunities to pursue scientific career path and provides for enhancing the scientific capacity of female as well as male scientists working for the key national public health and research institutions of Kazakhstan.

After a very competitive selection process the GerKazNet project offered three young Kazakhstani infectious disease doctors to conduct research on pathogens and become PhD candidates of the Center for International Health (CIH) at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.

Karlygash Abdiyeva joined the GerKazNet project in 2014 and the same year she joined the international PhD program under the CIH at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. With the knowledge obtained during the PhD studies, Karlygash’s research work allowed for determining the genotype of tick-borne encephalitis as well as the genotype of the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus circulating in Kazakhstan. In autumn 2019, Karlygash successfully defended her PhD degree.

Once COVID-19 pandemic was declared, Dr. Abdiyeva got actively involved in fighting the coronavirus pandemic by performing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests for COVID 19, as well as molecular biological and serological methods of investigation. In December 2021 for her active and hard work on combating the COVID-19 pandemic, Karlygash was awarded with the “Shapaghat” state award (from Kazakh ‘shapaghat’ means ‘mercy’). Dr. Abdiyeva is a Certified Biological Safety Professional and currently she works in the Almaty branch of the National Center for Biotechnology and continues to foster biosecurity and further develop the Kazakhstani science.

Anna Shin and Nur Tukhanova are professional infectious disease doctors who dreamed of expanding their scientific capacity. In 2017, Nur and in 2018, Anna, after difficult and competitive selection processes, joined the GerKazNet project and the international PhD program of the CIH at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.

The GIZ supports Anna’s and Nur’s PhD research with a research scholarship. Aiming at gender sensitivity, the GIZ Scholarship Agreement addresses as much as possible the specific situation and challenges of young female scholars, it regulates, inter alia, maternity leave, the annual work leave, sick leave, etc.

Starting from 2020, both Nur and Anna have been employed by the National Scientific Center for Especially Dangerous Infections (NSCEDI) as researchers of the Natural Foci Viral Infections Laboratory. They continue their scientific research, write articles that are published in international peer-reviewed scientific journals, deliver presentations at international scientific conferences and symposia, and get prepared for the PhD defense to be conducted in November 2022 at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.

Scientific research carried out within the framework of the GerKazNet project contributes to ensuring biosecurity in Kazakhstan.

Through its capacity building initiative, the GerKazNet project has enhanced scientific qualification of more than 700 staff members of its strategic partner institutes, of which approximately 50% are women.

To a great extent the development of science depends on scientific exchange. With the purpose of fostering biosafety and biosecurity for a safer world, the GerKazNet project works closely with its strategic partner institutes, namely the National Scientific Center for Especially Dangerous Infections (NSCEDI) named after Masgut Aikimbayev under the Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems (RIBSP)) of the Science Committee of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Almaty Branch of the National Biotechnology Center under the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The GerKazNet project provides for scientific exchange, acting as an organizer and/or co-organizer of international online scientific conferences and symposia that are attended by female and male scientists from Kazakhstan and far beyond, including from Central Asia countries and Europe.

Gender equality and elimination of gender-based discrimination is one of the main goals and a guiding principle of international development policy. By implementing the principle of gender equality and assisting women in science, the GIZ contributes to the achievement of sustainable development goals.

Nur Tukhanova is involved in serological and molecular studies of orthohantaviruses in Kazakhstan, including serological testing of patients with haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome and molecular biological testing of reservoirs (small mammals).

Anna Shin is engaged in scientific research of tick-borne encephalitis virus in Kazakhstan. In her research, Anna uses serological and molecular biological methods to study the virus.

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