On February 11, the global community observes the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The day highlights one of the greatest challenges we face today, which is the gender gap and inequality in science.
A significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines worldwide.
Even though women have made tremendous progress toward increasing their participation in higher education, they are still under-represented in these fields.
On 20 December 2013, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on science, technology and innovation for development, in which it recognized that full and equal access to and participation in science, technology and innovation for women and girls of all ages is imperative.
Particularly the resolution highlights the importance for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
Recognizing the role of women and girls in science as agents of change, including in view of accelerating progress towards the achievement of SDGs 16 and 17, session of 9th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly was convened.
The main theme of the assembly was “Women and Girls in Science Leadership, a New Era for Sustainability” along with a sub-theme “Think Science, Think Peace”.
The 9th Assembly will bring together women in science leaders and experts from around the world, high-level government officials, representatives of international organizations, and the private sector to discuss women’s leadership in achieving the three pillars of Sustainable Development.
Secretary General UN on Day of Women and Girls in Science
Secretary General United Nations, Antonio Guterres in a statement for the annual observance of International Day of Women and Girls in Science highlighted the importance of gender equality in the scientific field and its prospects for building a better future for all.
Unfortunately, he said, women and girls continue to face systemic barriers and biases that prevent them from pursuing careers in science. In fact, this deprives our world of great talent.
In particular, he underscored that women today make up only one-third of the global scientific community, obtaining less funding, fewer publishing opportunities and fewer senior positions at top universities than men.
Furthermore, in some places, women and girls have limited or no access to education which is an act of self-harm for the societies concerned, and a terrible violation of human rights.
From climate change to health to artificial intelligence, the equal participation of women and girls in scientific discovery and innovation is the only way to ensure that science works for everyone.
Moreover, while closing the gender gap requires dismantling gender stereotypes and promoting role models that encourage girls to choose science and developing programmes to support the advancement of women in science.
Also, it includes cultivating a working environment that nurtures the talents of all, including women members of minority communities.
Lastly, he said that women and girls belong in science. Also, it is time to recognize that inclusion fosters innovation, and let every woman and girl fulfill her true potential.
Statement of Director General UNESCO
In her statement for the day, Director General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay, spotlighted the need of women and girls in science specifically in today’s advanced trends.
She said that, at a time of climate change, green transition and the emergence of new technologies, the world needs more science, but science also needs more women.
Yet, it is at these crucial moments for our future, when scientists are particularly needed, that gender inequalities in science are most keenly felt.
Furthermore, according to the latest UNESCO Science Report, women currently make up only a third of scientists and 37% of ocean science professionals. In all scientific fields women face a glass ceiling.
She said that we must realize, however, that society as a whole, and not just women, suffers from these inequalities, because fewer scientists also mean fewer scientific innovations, fewer medical discoveries and less sustainable development.
Therefore, on this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, UNESCO would like to draw the international community’s attention to these profound imbalances and invite it to seize the opportunity offered by the International Decade of Sciences.
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Particularly the Sustainable Development (2024-2033) to strengthen scientific culture in society by focusing in particular on the training of girls and women.
On this International Day, society as a whole must unite in support and appreciation of the women and girls who are breaking the glass ceiling, embarking on scientific careers, and moving the world forward through their research.