On 11. February 2021, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres sent an important message for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science:
“Advancing gender equality in science and technology is essential for building a better future.
We have seen this yet again in the fight against COVID-19.
Women, who represent 70 per cent of all healthcare workers, have been among those most affected by the pandemic and among those leading the response to it.
Gender inequalities have increased dramatically in the past year, as women bear the brunt of school closures and working from home.
Many women scientists are facing closed labs and increased care responsibilities, leaving less time for critical research.
For women in scientific fields, these challenges have exacerbated an already difficult situation.
According to UNESCO, women account for only one third of the world’s researchers, and occupy fewer senior positions than men at top universities.
This disparity has led to a lower publication rate, less visibility, less recognition and, critically, less funding.
Meanwhile, artificial Intelligence and machine learning replicate existing biases.
Women and girls belong in science.
Yet stereotypes have steered women and girls away from science-related fields.
It is time to recognize that greater diversity fosters greater innovation.
Without more women in STEM, the world will continue to be designed by and for men, and the potential of girls and women will remain untapped.
We must ensure that girls have access to the education they deserve and that they can see a future for themselves in engineering, computer programming, cloud technology, robotics and health sciences.
This is critical for our work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Increasing women’s participation in STEM can close the gender pay gap and boost women’s earnings by $299 billion over the next ten years.
STEM skills are also crucial in closing the global Internet user gap.
Together, let’s end gender discrimination, and ensure that all women and girls fulfill their potential and are an integral part in building a better world for all.”