Address by Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General of UNCTAD, on the occaision of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 11 February 2018.
UNCTAD is the UN focal point for the integrated treatment of trade and the interrelated issues of finance, investment and technology for development, and the institutional home of the UN Commission for Science and Technology for Development, the torchbearer for technology and innovation in the UN family.
That is why we are keenly aware of the fundamental contribution of science, technology and innovation to global efforts to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Bringing more women and girls into science, and focussing more and more science on the specific concerns and needs of women will be key for our success in this endeavour.
Women scientists are indispensable contributors to finding solutions towards peace and development. But they remain only a minor proportion of researchers in the world, particularly at higher levels of decision-making. And there is a persistent gap in the number of women graduating from and working in STEM Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, which are becoming particularly decisive in a global economy experiencing rapid technological change.
Many reasons are behind the low numbers of women in science: access to and quality of education; job market opportunities; stereotypes; lack of role models, mentorship and sponsorship; workplace culture and work-life balance.
Closing this gap will require profound changes in the organization and professional culture in the STEM field. We also need to introduce girls early to female science role models and use mentoring programs to overcome stereotypes and bring and keep more young women in science.
At UNCTAD XIV in Nairobi, member states provided UNCTAD with its strongest ever mandate on gender across all the areas of our work on trade, finance, investment and technology.
In technology, our research is exploring how women can benefit from the globalization of science by fulfilling international collaboration opportunities. UNCTAD also partners with UN agencies, civil society and the private sector towards helping women benefit from the opportunities provided by the digital revolution and addressing the gender digital divide.
We are committed to chart a way forward in supporting inclusive and sustainable development, that fully takes into account the needs of women and men, girls and boys, and ensures that the talents of all are able to contribute.
I take great pleasure in inviting all partners in science for development, men and women, to join in this celebration of the role of women and girls in science.