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UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

02/27/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/27/2019 08:01

Journée internationale des femmes et des filles de science (en anglais)

Every year, UNESCO celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Due to the critical role women and girls play in science and technology, this Day was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly on 22 December 2015, through Resolution A/RES/70/212(link is external).

This Day is an opportunity to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. It is implemented by UNESCO and UN-Women(link is external), in collaboration with institutions and civil society partners that aim to promote women and girls in science. Click here to see the Joint-Message from Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO and Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women.

The celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science was opened by Ms Saniye Gülser Corat, UNESCO's Director for Gender Equality, who gave remarks on gender disparities in science, saying that 'there are still not enough women in science, and not enough girls studying science subjects. […] We all have a collective responsibility for the advancement of women in science'. Ms Peggy Oti-Boateng, Director of the Division of Science Policy and Capacity Building in UNESCO's Natural Sciences Sector, and Ms Sophie Biecheler, Assistant Director from UNIVERSCIENCE, took the floor to open the debate and introduce the two women scientists invited for the occasion:

  • Dr Adriana Marais: Theoretical physicist and International Rising Talent of the L'Oréal-Unesco for Women and Science Programme in 2015. She is one of the 100 scientist selected for the Mars One project which goal is to establish human settlement on Mars.
  • Dr Anaïs Orsi: Deputy Division Chef of the Laboratory for Climate and Environmental Sciences at the Atomic Energy Commission and International Rising Talent of the L'Oréal-Unesco for Women and Science Programme in 2016.

Dr Anaïs Orsi, Dr Adriana Marais, and Mr Alex da Silva. Around 250 students were present during the debate

Following the presentation of the women scientists, the debate on emerging areas of work for girls and women in sciences was animated with the audience composed of UNESCO's representatives and around 250 students who were present for the Day.

An interactive workshop was co-organized with UNIVERSCIENCE, a French public institution whose purpose is to promote the involvement of young people in scientific careers to boost economic dynamism and social cohesion. During this workshop, different activities were organized to highlight outstanding contributions of women scientists. The activities included:

*interactive workshop co-organised with UNIVERSCIENCE

These activities were followed by a Gender Views Session with Dr Adriana Marais, who gave a presentation entitled 'The Allure of the Unknown: One-way Mars mission'. During her presentation, Dr Marais explained the reasons why she applied to this global initiative aimed at sending 24 humans to live on Mars in the next decade:

'Billions of years of evolution of life on Earth have culminated in the possibility of us calling another planet home for the very first time. I applied to go and live on Mars because the allure of the unknown to me has always felt far more powerful than the comfort of the known.'

Ms Saniye Gülser Corat and Dr Adriana Marais at Gender Views

Dr Marais also highlighted the improvements that science has made in finding answers to fundamental questions for humanity such as 'where do we come from?' and 'where are we going?'. Dr Marais' presentation was followed by a lively Q&A session with around 70 participants on different topics including those related to gender equality and science. Dr Marais recognized that the mission to Mars would also be the occasion to embed gender equality in a new society, a society where the initial settlers - 12 women and 12 men - would have to live in harmony and respect if they want to survive.

Gender equality is a global priority for UNESCO, and the support of young girls, their education and their full ability to make their ideas heard are levers for development and peace.

Tackling some of the greatest challenges of the Agenda for Sustainable Development -- from improving health to combatting climate change -- will rely on harnessing all talent. That means getting more women working in these fields. Diversity in research expands the pool of talented researchers, bringing in fresh perspectives, talent and creativity. This Day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.

If you want to know more about this international Day, please visit: https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/womenandgirlinscienceday