The Secretary-General of the United Nations emphasized the need to address the systemic barriers and biases preventing women and girls from pursuing careers in science. In a message for the day, he pointed out that despite making up only a third of the global scientific community, women receive less funding compared to men, are underrepresented in publications, and hold fewer senior positions in major universities. In some places, women and girls have limited or no access to education, which he described as a violation of human rights.
The Secretary-General believes that it is essential for women and girls to participate equally in scientific discoveries and innovations. He stressed that addressing gender inequalities requires overcoming gender stereotypes, promoting role models to encourage girls to pursue scientific careers, developing programs to advance women in science, and creating work environments that nurture women’s talents, especially those from minority groups. The theme chosen for this year’s International Day by UNESCO and UN Women is “Closing the gender gap in science”. UNESCO’s Call for Action provides recommendations aimed at tackling the root causes of gender-based inequalities in science. This aligns with SDG Goal 5: Gender Equality, which aims to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, eliminate harmful practices such as early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation, and provide universal access to sexual and reproductive health care. Globally, almost half of all married women currently lack decision-making power over their sexual and reproductive health and rights.