Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. To this end gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to the achievement of peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. It has also been shown that empowering women spurs productivity and economic growth.
Unfortunately, despite all of the awe-inspiring developments, innovation and achievements globally to-date, there is still a long way to go towards the achievement of full equality of rights and opportunities between men and women. Putting an end to the multiple forms of gender-based violence; securing equal access to quality education, health and economic resources is vital. Ensuring participation of both women and girls and men and boys in all aspects of society is important. Doing so will lead to the achievement of equal opportunities in accessing employment, leadership positions and decision-making at all levels.
Dismantling gender stereotypes which, amongst other things, includes ending the gender imbalance in science, technology and innovation will enable many societies to harness their full potential and lead to the achievement of development goals. To this end, many sectors are investing in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science in order to counter the continued exclusion of women from participating in these fields.
You may wonder, why science in particular? Well, it is reported that largely due to the low enrolment figures of female students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related fields, longstanding prejudices and gender stereotypes which often steer girls and women away from science related fields; less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women!! To rise to the challenges of the 21st century, we need to harness our full potential, but how can we when such exclusions and discrimination still persists?
This is without a doubt a tragedy especially as we take into account the current global scenario, one cannot help but consider how the low figures of women in science has in effect hindered the world’s potential to rise to challenges such as the current pandemic.
The United Nations has declared the 11th February as the “International Day of Women and Girls in Science.” This is no doubt a step in the right direction, but the declaration on its own is not enough, it needs to be supplemented by substantial and effective action from all quarters! As we continue to plan for the year ahead, it will be worthwhile for each one of us to consider what we can do to counter gender inequality especially when it relates to access to education and economic resources.
MISA is playing its part in empowering more students enrolled in Maths, Science, Technical, Financial and other scarce skills through the MISA Bursary Benefit. This benefit pays out 50 bursaries of R10 000 to fund the tertiary studies of children of MISA members, subject to the specified terms and conditions. To find out more about this benefit, please contact MISA at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 011 476 3920.
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela
The article contains information from https://www.un.org/en