Girls continue to face stereotypes, social and cultural restrictions as well as limiting access to education and funding for research, preventing them to explore and grow in scientific careers and reaching their full potential.
By Davis Akampurira
Every February 11, is International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
However, young women and girls encounter challenges every day. Many of those challenges are triggered simply by virtue of being female. These include physical and sexual violence, being kept out of school, disproportionate vulnerability to HIV infection and lack of access to property and other rights.
In many parts of the world, girls and young women continue to carry the double burden of being both young and female. They often face negative cultural attitudes and practices as well as gender- biased social and political processes that limit their opportunities and undermine their self esteem.
Moreover, girls and women shoulder the heaviest burdens of poverty and inequality as they stand on the frontlines as victims of climate change, including those of natural disasters.
Despite all the hardships and difficulties encountered by women and girls all around the world, without a doubt, they possess the collective power to change their lives, the societies and the world we live in.
Just as they solve their daily issues in their families, women are continually developing innovative, effective ways to improve their lives and even, develop their communities. By bringing together their wisdom, intelligence and creativity, young women are, indeed, leading change and innovation.
Girls continue to face stereotypes, social and cultural restrictions as well as limiting access to education and funding for research, preventing them to explore and grow in scientific careers and reaching their full potential. In fact, up to today, women remain a minority in science research and decision-making.
According to a study conducted in 14 countries, the probability for female students of graduating with a Bachelor's degree, Master's degree and Doctor's degree in science-related field are 18%, 8% and 2% respectively, while the percentages of male students are 37%, 18% and 6%.
Observed on February 11, every year, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science recognises the critical role that women and girls play in both Science and Technology.
Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science.
Stakeholders should adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all young women, at all levels and also encourage all members to undertake necessary reforming actions to give young women the equal rights to economic resources, as well as to ownership and control over the other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources.
We believe meaningful progress must start with the rights and dignity of women, by nurturing their ingenuity as well as creativity, and enhancing the use of enabling technologies, in particular Information and Communication Technology, to empower young women.
Let us raise awareness about the work of women scientists by providing equal opportunities for their participation and leadership in a broad spectrum of high-level scientific bodies and events. Together, we can make a difference.
Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!