The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is observed by the United Nations (UN) on 11 February each year. The day aims to promote the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
It also aims to raise awareness about the contribution of women and girls in the field of science and technology.
This year marks the seventh observance of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
A significant gender gap exists in STEM fields till date. The Commission on the Status of Women, in 2011, adopted a report at its 55th session, which called for equal access to decent work and full employment and “participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology”, as per the website of the United Nations.
In 2013, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution which recognised that participation of girls in women in STEM research and innovation is crucial for achieving gender equality. In the year 2015, UNGA declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
The day is implemented by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN-Women, in coordination with civil society institutions.
This year, the theme for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us”.
The seventh International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly, which is being held on 11 February this year in New York, will focus on women and girls as agents of change, especially towards the fulfilment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of clean water and sanitation.
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is significant as it aims to reduce the gender gap in STEM disciplines. As per the UN, only 33 percent of researchers are women. Women researchers are funded less compared to their male counterparts, and are also underrepresented in high-profile journals.
Women account for 40 per cent of graduates in the field of computer science and informatics and 28 per cent of engineering graduates. In cutting edge research areas such as artificial intelligence, only about one in five professionals (22 per cent) is a woman.
Women form a mere 12 percent of the membership of national science academies, as per statistics by the United Nations.
In this year’s message on the occasion of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, UN Secretary General António Guterres stated that structural and societal barriers prevent women and girls from progressing in STEM disciplines.
He called for member nations to develop an environment where women and girls could achieve their full potential and become leading scientists and innovators.
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