International Day of Women and Girls in Science

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated on 11 February - it is implemented by UNESCO and UN-Women, in collaboration with institutions and civil society partners. The day aligns with GWP's Gender Strategy, which addresses diversity and inclusion, social equity, and women's role in the integrated and sustainable management of water resources.

According to data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women. This number mirrors some of the experiences that GWP has captured over the years, in particular in connection to  International Women's Day (IWD). In interviews, some female scientists have voiced what it can be like to work in a male dominated profession.

Alexandra Pierre, National Coordinator for the Haiti Chapter of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) said: "My principle difficulty revolves around the fact that, in the Haitian workplace, many people still have a conventional view of the role of women. For example, during planning meetings, officers who do not know me, often assume that I am a secretary and are surprised when I give interventions as a technician and a consultant. In addition, during field visits, especially at the beaches, I am often mistaken as a model preparing for a seaside photo shoot. I often smile when people come to understand, that the heavy equipment I am carrying is for biological assessments of the marine ecosystems. I can see their discomfort, change in approach and attitude when they realise that they are interacting with a professional field scientist and not a swimsuit model."  

One of the key solutions to overcoming gender stereotypes in the workplace, is education.  Doreen Wandera, Executive Director of UWASNET Uganda, said: “For the water sector to step it up for gender equality, there is a need to emphasize a special approach on girls’ education, especially in technical aspects, to ensure increased women’s participation. This will help in increasing women’s presence in male dominated professions."

More similar comments and experiences are found in the IWD articles in the right-hand links on this page. IWD 2020 will take place on 8 March, and the 2019 UN theme is "Think equal, build smart, innovate for change". 

More information about the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is available on the UN website and UN Women's website (the below video is also by UN Women).

Top photo by rakratchada/