Building peace in the minds of men and women

International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2018

Initiatives for Women and Girls in Science



Women and girls' education

UNESCO is committed to promoting gender equality in and through education systems from early childhood to higher education, in formal, non-formal and informal settings and in all intervention areas from planning infrastructure to training teachers.


Global report on the barriers stifling girls’ and women’s engagement in and contributions to the STEM fields, as well as practical solutions on how these barriers can be overcome.

The report recognises the multifaceted nature of the challenge and proposes a response that is equally comprehensive, including changes to teacher training, learning contents, materials and equipment, assessment methods and tools as well as the overall learning environment and socialisation process in school.


Supporting women scientists

Gender equality should be considered as a crucial means to promote scientific and technological excellence. In fact, the untapped potential of brilliant girls and women who might be interested in STEM but choose not to pursue degrees or careers in these fields because of the various obstacles they may face, represents an important lost opportunity, both for women themselves as well as for the society as a whole.



Improving measurement of gender equality in STEM

There are various possible explanations for the gender imbalance in science, and a large amount of anecdotal evidence, but solid information is still lacking. In fact, the growing demand for cross-nationally comparable statistics on the representation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is only slowly starting to be met. There is an urgent need to develop new indicators and methods to collect and analyze sex-disaggregated data on women’s participation in STEM around the world, in order to elaborate and implement appropriate solutions.

Through its worldwide data collection activities, UIS identifies, measures and assesses sex-disaggregated data. But to truly reduce the gender gap, we must go beyond the hard numbers and identify the qualitative factors that deter women from pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In response, the UIS is developing a series of new indicators about the dynamics that shape women’s decisions to pursue STEM careers.

SAGA supports the design and implementation of policy instruments that affect gender equality in STEM, analyses how policies affect the gender balance in STEM, and develops new and improved indicators for evidence-based policy-making.


In terms of water resources management, significant gender imbalances still exist and are likely to be exacerbated by climate variability and change. These imbalances hamper effective water provision, water-policy formulation, water management, and climate change mitigation and adaption. This groundbreaking project aims to develop and test the collection of key sex-disaggregated water data.


Promoting women’s participation in policy-making processes

UNESCO works to promote women’s participation in high-level processes shaping the science agenda and STI policies, thus ensuring that the unique perspectives of women scientists and women knowledge holders, including holders of indigenous and traditional knowledge, are incorporated into solutions to the various challenges of advancing sustainable and equitable development. UNESCO is currently establishing an inventory of all STI related policies affecting, positively or negatively, gender equality and women empowerment through its Global Observatory of Science Policy Information (GO-SPIN) and the SAGA project.

This international campaign, specifically aimed at policy-makers with the objective to raise their awareness on the gender and Science, Innovation, Technology and Engineering (SITE) dimensions of development, is upported by the World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in the developing countries (UNESCO-TWAS).



Crosscutting issues

The incorporation of knowledge and practices of both women and men is not only relevant but essential for sustainable development. Women are powerful agents of change, who possess specific knowledge and skills to effectively contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation and to the prevention of and education for natural disasters. However, they are largely under-represented project design and in decision-making processes at all levels. UNESCO strives to empower women and respond to their specific needs.

Women are frequently the primary managers or collectors of natural resources such as drinking water, fuel or small agroforestry plots, medicinal plants and the primary holders of knowledge concerning such resources. UNESCO promotes the key role of women as holders of local and indigenous knowledge and as agents of change and community cohesion at the local level. More particularly, UNESCO highlights women’s transmission, preservation and elaboration of local knowledge related to sustainable development, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity and climate change.

While existing evidence underscores the vulnerability of women to climate change, there is as well a wealth of evidence which underlines that women play an important role in supporting households and communities to mitigate the effects and adapt to climate change. In fact, women have led – and continue to lead – many of the most innovative responses to environmental challenges all over the world.