THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has called on organisations and individuals to support more women in the fields of science and technology.
The call was made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) representative to Namibia, Djaffar Moussa-Elkadhum at this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science in Windhoek on Tuesday.
The event, organised the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 22 December 2015 and is commemorated on 11 February every year.
The purpose of the day is to affirm the vital role that women play in contributing to the global progress of science and technology, as well as to realise that women, although representing half of the world’s population, are often excluded from fully participating in the economy.
According to the resolution, women and girls working or training in any science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) field should be celebrated in an effort to promote equal access to full employment and decent work.
The resolution further maintains that women have a vital role to play in achieving sustainable development.
“Since its establishment, 11 February remains a day of debates, messages to advocate dismantling gender stereotypes in Stem and supporting the careers of women scientists and researchers,” stated Moussa-Elkadhum.
Moussa-Elkadhum added that Unesco is proud to support Namibia in all endeavours aimed at closing the gender gap in STEM.
He also called for a world where all people have equal rights, where gender equality is the norm, where all genders are paid equally for equal work and, where women are not afraid of walking home late at night and men are not trapped in oppressive masculinities
“Imagine equality in political leadership and corporate boardrooms and factory floors. Women have equal say in decisions that affect their lives, their bodies, their policies and their environment, from villages to cities,” said Moussa-Elkadhum.
Director general of Unesco, Audrey Azoulay, also released a message for the occasion, where she stated that “full equality for women would be the surest hallmark of civilisation and would double the intellectual powers of the human race”.
Furthermore, Azoulay revealed that despite girls doing as well as boys in mathematics in school, women only account for 30% of scientific researchers.
She also added that “Unesco is calling on the international community, states and individuals to work together so that equality in the sciences and other fields can finally become a reality”.
UN secretary general António Guterres in a statement to commemorate the day said in order to rise to the challenges of the 21st century, “we need to harness our full potential. That requires dismantling gender stereotypes. On this International day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s pledge to end the gender imbalance in science”.