By February 23, 2016 Read More →

“Transforming the World: Parity in Science”

Commemorating International Day of Women and Girls in Science
11 February, 2016

United Nations Headquarters, New York


Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. Unfortunately, women and girls continued to be excluded from participating fully in science. According to a study conducted in 14 countries, the probability for female students of graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and Doctor’s degree in science-related field are 18%, 8% and 2% respectively, while the percentages of male students are 37%, 18% and 6%. (ref. UN report)

In order to achieve full and equal access to, and participation in, science for women and girls, and to further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Commemorating the very first observance of the day, a High-Level Forum was held on 11 February 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters by The Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) and DESA-DSPD.

The room was packed and it was heart-warming to know that so many people; men and women, care about the betterment of their peers and colleagues.

For the running order of the day, please visit:

In her opening remarks, HRH Princess Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite, Executive Director, Royal Academy of Science International Trust, Founder of Women in Science International League, proudly said, ” We are not women of science, but women scientists.  Nations will be stronger with more women scientists and a better world will be here.”

Women and Girls

Speakers addressed issues such as policy makers looking into the rights of women to vote; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) gap; digital gap; equal ranks and salary issues;  recognition for awards, etc. Leaders were aware they have many challenges to face in bridging the gap for achieving a gender equal world.

A few suggestions that can bring a change were raised:

  • mobile apps and games to raise awareness of domestic violence against women.
  • education to change the ‘his-story’ that modern science and technology are male domains. The governments of Costa Rica and Malta are examples of this change.
  • new established practices to build comprehensive solutions.
  • personal empowerment and mentorship.
  • remove the deep and engrained bias that boys are better in mathematics and science, and media can help in breaching this stereotype.

What was clearly stated was that no country can move forward with only half of its energy and skills, ie. of men;  science needs the energy of both men and women!

There was an entertaining, yet eye-opening performance by Nilgun Yerli (Face of Netherlands) as she ‘acted-out’ most of the above issues.

As a reference, Sustainable Development Goal, No. 5 – Empowerment of all women and girls, has a segment for science and technology.


In photo above, from left: Hon. Dr. Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, Malta. In the center: HRH Princess Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite, Executive Director, Royal Academy of Science International Trust, Founder of Women in Science International League.

In conclusion, women and girls have the same potential and men and boys have the same nurturing and caring abilities! A safe and secure environment can make anyone flourish at his or her best. Can we not help in creating that space for each other? We share the same earth, sun, and air, so we can share the same responsibilities, awards, incomes, joys, and offer support during challenging times.  Collectively, we can achieve our common goals. Together, we are the contributors and drivers for the change we both seek.

“You are not a drop in the ocean.  You are the entire ocean in a drop.  Do you not know yet?  It is your light that lights the world.” Rumi


Posted in: Women

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