Early "Science" is vital for girls
On 12 March, the Director-General gave the opening remarks and moderated the high-profile side event entitled "Good for equality, good for the economy: Getting Girls into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)", held in the framework of the 58th CSW Session in New York.
The high-level panelists included UK Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller, Anna T. Maembe, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children of Tanzania and Nikki Yates, member of the UK Women's Business Council and UK General Manager for GlaxoSmithKline, a science-led global healthcare company.
The event, organized by the delegations of UK and Tanzania together with GlaxoSmithKline UK, drew a large group of participants, who focused on the under-representation of women and girls in STEM, the role of business and governments in promoting STEM qualifications and careers and the economic impact of the lack of diversity in STEM.
In her opening remarks, Irina Bokova highlighted UNESCO's action to promote STEM education for girls, the l'Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Program that aims to provide, among other objectives, strong female role models in STEM and UNESCO's work to encourage the participation of women in high-level processes shaping the science agenda and science policies.
In her presentation, Maria Miller highlighted the activities currently underway in the UK to broaden girls' participation in STEM.
Anna T. Maembe presented practical actions taken in Tanzania to involve girls into STEM. While highlighting achievements, she identified certain challenges, such as lack of scholarships for girls to study STEM, lack of mentors to encourage girls and perceptions by girls themselves that science as well as business careers do not pay well.
Nikki Yates provided insights into GlaxoSmithKline's modalities of supporting STEM for girls.
Wrapping up the outcomes of the discussion, the Director-General drew the participants' attention to the importance of girls having scientific understanding as a foundation for empowerment.