Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.
On 11 February, the United Nations, partners worldwide, women and girls set aside this day to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
The Day focuses on the reality that science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This year’s theme is, “Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.”
It will be sixth International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly whose theme will be Beyond the Borders: Equality in Science for Society, with a special focus on the value of the social aspects and cultural dimensions in Science, Technology and Innovation to enhance sustainable development programs.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the critical role of women researchers in different stages of the fight against COVID-19, from advancing the knowledge on the virus, to developing techniques for testing, and finally to creating the vaccine against the virus.
At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant negative impact on women scientists, particularly affecting those at the early stages of their career, and thus contributing to widening the existing gender gap in science, and revealing the gender disparities in the scientific system, which need to be addressed by new policies, initiatives and mechanisms to support them.
For over a decade, the Miss.Africa Digital program has made tremendous efforts in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science, particularly fighting against long-standing biases and gender stereotypes that steer girls and women away from science-related fields.
As in the real world, the world on-screen reflects similar biases. The 2015 Gender Bias Without Borders study by the Geena Davis Institute showed that onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job were only 12 per cent.
On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s change this narrative. Join us in celebrating women and girls leading in innovation and call for actions to remove all barriers that hold them back.