The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution (70/212) on 22nd December 2015 in its 70th session, to observe February 11th as the “International Day of Women and Girls In science"; to promote the participation of women in fields related to science and technology. The resolution had the approval of all the UN Member states and sponsorship of more than 68 countries; an indication of their willingness to achieve gender equality.
The celebrations are planned by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and UN-Women (An entity working for women empowerment) in collaboration with other institutions and civil partners that aimed to promote gender equality and women empowerment.
The day is observed globally, to give women access to science and technology and to ensure their participation; essentiality for gender equality and women empowerment. The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is one of the flagship agendas of the United Nations towards achieving gender equality and thus sustainable development.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2020
The fifth forum of International Day of Women and Girls in Science will be held on 11th February 2020 (Tuesday) to 12th February 2020 (Wednesday) at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
This year, the forum aimed to develop a program that will be showcasing the best practices and solutions to move investment in women and girls in Science for inclusive green growth. The agenda for the day mainly focused on the inclusion of women and girls in the mainstream of science and technology.
Various events were organized around the world which inspired girls to take STEM subjects i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths and boost a career in the field of engineering, science, and technology. UN agencies across the world also commemorated the day through various events, videos and articles.
Montreal Science Center celebrated the day with a free event for under 17 girls. The event mainly focused on the inclusion of girls and women in the field of science and technology. Montreal University also provided free admission to girls in all Science Centre exhibitions on the day.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2018
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science – 2018 was observed from 8th February 2018 (Thursday) to 9th February 2018 (Friday). The observance was pre-scheduled because of 11th February being Sunday.
How was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science Celebrated in 2018?
Where and Who?
The events of the third commemoration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science were held at the Economic and Social Chamber at United Nations Head Quarters, New York; located at 1st Avenue between 42nd and 46th street.
Many ministers, delegates, members of private institutions, members of the civil societies and policymakers and also many girls and women from various countries were called in for the forum.
The third observation of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science – 2018 was done under the lead role of RASIT (Royal Academy of Science International Trust) and the Government of the Republic of Malta in close collaboration with UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and the UN’s permanent missions of member states – Costa Rica, Hungary and Vietnam.
The celebration was also co-sponsored by the permanent representations of these countries to the UN – Georgia, Portugal, San Marino, Thailand, Colombia, Paraguay, Cyprus, Rwanda, Argentina and Australia, also the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), ILO (International Labour Organization), IUCN (International Union of conservation of Nature) and ITU (International Telecommunication Union).
Activities of International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2018
The events of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2018 – revolved around the central theme – “Equality and Parity in Science for Peace and Development”. The 2018 celebration had a distinction of having the first all-girls panel at the United Nations; chaired, moderated and attended by girls from around the world.
Young and enthusiastic girls from around the world belonging to the field of Science and Technology shared their views, proposed means to achieve gender equality and parity, to achieve sustainable development.
Under the joint Chairmanship of an 11-year young girl from Turkey – Talya Ozdemir and 13-year-old Rebecca Jekogian from the United States; the panel constitutes many young women and girls. The young girls spoke on various topics like – ‘Everyday Bias and Oppression in the Class Room’ (by Sthuthi Satish, a 14-year-old girl from India), ‘Why Science needs Women and Girls’, ‘Women in Science Around the world’, ‘A Girl’s Adventure in Science’, ‘Borderless Opportunities for a Girl in STEM’ etc. (STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
The girls also shared their views on the hindrances to girls and women, in the path of Science and Technology and their possible countermeasures. They were vocal about their personal ambitions and the hindrances as also those faced by the girls of their own age around the world. They also presented their views to increase related resources to facilitate the participation of girls and women in science-related fields.
The participants debated on many questions like How to get women’s voices heard at all levels, how we can support girls from rural areas in developing countries as well as refugees, what is the role of boys and men in promoting gender equality and parity etc.
Her Royal Highness Princess Nisreen El – Hashemite of Iraq presented the official remarks. Now 48 years old, the princess defied conventions to pursue medicine.
In her remarks, HRH Princess Nisreen El-Hashemite mentioned the story of a young Indian girl – Malavath Poorna from a small village, who was forced to discontinue as her father was unable to pay the school fee. The helpless father sent the girl to a social welfare school. But, Poorna with her sheer determination and under the guidance of her headmaster became the youngest girl to scale Mount Everest on 25th May 2014, aged 13 years and 11 months.
HRH further stated that the story of Poorna only reaffirms the fact that girls can achieve anything if provided with proper guidance, resources, and opportunities.
The Recommendations of Panel - 2018
The panel made recommendations for involvement and promotion of girls and women in the fields of – science leadership, technology and innovation, education and skill development. It stressed the roles of partners and allies in promoting gender equality and parity.
A strong request was made to attribute equal value to the efforts of girls or women as that of boys and men and to equally recognize the leadership of women in science and related fields.
Recommendations were made to financially and technically support girls and women in order to eliminate gender inequality. Ensuring a systemic mechanism of growth and opportunity at the workplace irrespective of gender was also recommended.
The international community was called upon to provide logistics, financial and political support for women empowerment and providing opportunities to girls and women around the world to contribute to the field of science and technology; which is imperative to achieve gender equality and parity and the goal of sustainable development.
What are the Program Agenda and the Events of 2019?
The fourth commemoration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science – 2019 will be held at the United Nations Head Quarters in New York from 11th – 12th February 2019.
The forum will be held under the guidance of RASIT (Royal Academy of Science International Trust), WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), UNITAR (United Nations Institute of Training and Research), UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and ILO (International Labour Organization); with a central theme of “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth”.
The prime objective of the forum will be to harness resources, channelize funders, and mobilize investors in the fields of women in science and technology. An opportunity will be provided to the policymakers around the world to make a proposal for an International action plan for investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2019 – Agenda
The opening remarks of the forum will be made by –
- Her Royal Highness Princess Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite, Executive Director of the Royal Academy of Science International Trust and the Founder President of the women in Science International League.
- Her Excellency Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73rd session of General Assembly.
- His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
- ‘Woman in Science’ of the forum will be - Suhad A. Yasin from Iraq.
- ‘Girls in Science’ of the Forum will be – Miss Sthuthi Satish from India and Miss Huaxuan Chen from Canada.
The two days forum in 2019 will include a high-level Panel discussing and making recommendations on issues like –
- The current status of financing in science by public sector and its future prospects.
- Invest to improve the capacity and capability of women in research.
- Structural investments to ensure gender equality and inclusive growth.
- A strategic discussion on sustainable Development Goal – 4 will be made, especially in the field of Science and Technology. (SDG Goal 4: Ensure Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promote Life-Long Learning Opportunities For All).
- To include and increase the number of women in the fields of education and science.
- Identify and address the issues restraining the girls and women from taking up a career in the fields of science and technology.
This year too, there will be a parallel panel including young girls and women from across the world, which will be discussing and interacting with UN officials and other dignitaries on issues pertaining to the participation of women in Science and Technology. The girls’ panel will focus on the following issues-
- Steps to be taken to improve science education around the world.
- What steps could be taken to ensure the participation of both males and females in Science related fields.
- How much important is girls’ participation in STEM (science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and for inclusive economic growth.
- Steps to be taken to encourage and ensure the involvement of girls and women in science-related fields.
- How to achieve SDG 10 (reducing inequalities) and eliminate the barriers faced by girls and women.
- Contribution of women and girls towards SDG 13 – ‘urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts’.
Present Global Scenario of Women and Girls in Science and Technology
Though, the International community has made commendable efforts to involve women and girls in science and technology; unfortunately, a majority of girls and women around the world continue to be excluded from their participation in the fields related to science and technology.
As per recent data provided by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, women constitute less than 30% of the world’s researchers. Women’s contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is quite low as compared to that of men.
A study conducted in 14 countries reveals that the probability of a woman graduating with a doctor’s degree is – 2%, with a Bachelor’s degree is – 18% and with a Master’s degree is 8%. The percentages are in high contrast with that of men at – 6%, 37%, and 18% respectively.
Why the International Day of Women and Girls in Science should be Celebrated?
Gender equality is goal number 5 in the United Nations list of 17 goals mandatory to achieve global sustainable development by 2030. The goal of gender equality is however contrasted with the girls and women lesser contributions in fields related to Science and Technology.
The number of women taking part in high-level scientific meets, research programs, and other high-level events is considerably less than those of the men. Studies in many countries have revealed that women in science-related fields are paid less than men and also don’t progress as farther as men.
We need to persuade women to join the fields of science and technology and also to remove the barriers restricting them. Achieving gender equality is mandatory to achieve sustainable development; therefore, it becomes imperative to promote women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) related fields, if the goal of sustainable development is to be achieved.
How to Celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science?
The commemoration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science focuses on encouraging and facilitating the involvement of girls and women in science and related fields. The main theme of 2019 celebrations are – “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth”; which should be the main focus of the program.
However, the day can be observed by individuals, professionals, institutions and private and government firms in their own capacities. Below given are a few activities that should be involved in the celebrations-
1) Discuss and Debate
The involvement of girls and women in the science-related fields should be discussed – their current participation and means to encourage and implement it. Possible hindrance faced by girls and women in science-related fields to be discussed and debated with suggestions and recommendations on their possible countermeasures.
2) Raise Awareness
The awareness about the subject could be raised through campaigns and awards. Award ceremonies are the best way to encourage and recognize an individual’s contribution to a particular field. Organize such events in your schools and offices to encourage the girls and women who have made distinguished achievements in the fields of science and also to raise awareness about the issue.
3) Know the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Goals
Enrich your knowledge about the goals of Sustainable Development and how important is the participation of girls and women in science for achieving them. Also, teach others about the significance of SDG goals and the role played by girls and women in achieving them.
4) Form Internal Panel
An internal panel could be formed by the institutes and organizations; especially working in the fields of science and technology. Such a panel should devise a feasible plan to address its internal issues faced by its women staff/members and also implement plans to encourage more girls and women to take up a career in STEM fields.
5) Raise Funds
Raise funds for the girls from villages who have to discontinue education due to a lack of resources. Use the fund collected to mobilize volunteers and organize various programs and events - centered on the main issue.
Themes of International Day of Girls and Women in Science
Below we are providing the yearly themes for International Day of Girls and Women in Science, since the inception of the day in 2016-
- The theme of 2016 – “Transforming the World: Parity for All”.
- The theme of 2017 – Gender Science and Sustainable Development: The Impact of Media”.
- The theme of 2018 – “Equality and Parity in Science for Peace and Development”.
- The theme of 2019 – “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth”.