9 February 2024
Your Royal Highness, Dr. Nisreen Al-Hashemite,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure and a deep sense of commitment that I join you this morning in spotlighting the significance, not merely to women and girls, but more importantly, to society at large, of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
I extend my heartfelt thanks and commend the Permanent Missions of Costa Rica, Lebanon, Malta, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, and Spain, for organizing this timely event together with the Royal Academy of Science International Trust.
I also thank other organizers and the numerous co-sponsors for shedding light on an important cause – the advancement of Women in Science Leadership – which holds huge potential to usher in a New Era for Sustainability, particularly as it sets the stage for the upcoming Sustainability Week, which I will convene in April 2024.
As per the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, a mere 33% of the world's researchers are women.
This distressingly low figure is identical to the income gap across the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, where women earn about 33% less than their male counterparts – a disparity grossly exacerbated for women of colour.
The conspicuously low representation of female role models in these fields, the sparse representation of women scientists as Nobel laureates, and the evident underinvestment in STEM education for girls – all perpetuated by gender stereotypes and biases – are symptoms of the uphill battle women are still forced to confront in their professional lives.
Gender diversity in STEM fields not only enhances problem-solving, creativity, and productivity but in fact elevates scientific accuracy and quality.
We must, therefore, urgently dismantle the barriers holding back women and girls in science.
This means addressing biases, social norms, and expectations that perpetuate the cycle of lesser educational and career prospects.
It means investing in research and development, technology, education, as well as training programmes, for women and girls.
And it means fostering a safe and inclusive workplace for women and girls’ growth and success.
Initiatives like the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards and the Young Talents Programme for the Caribbean are commendable steps forward.
I congratulate the recent recipients, Dr. Sarah Buckland, and Ms. Sunshine De Caires,1 who will, no doubt, inspire many girls to follow their paths.
It is empirically established that empowering women yields substantial benefits for all of society. Let us therefore, ensure their voices are heard and heeded in science.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the side-lines of the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women next month, I will host an event addressing the interlinkages between gender equality, poverty, and education.
I eagerly look forward to your participation in this event.
And, as a Gender Champion myself – and building on the resourceful guidance of my Advisory Board on Gender – I take this moment to recommit to advancing gender equality, within the UN and beyond.
Together, we can create a future where women and girls in science thrive – contributing their skills and talents for the betterment of all.
I thank you.
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