Madam Moderator (Ambassador Kuret, so good to see you in the chair)
Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues, good afternoon.
I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share a few thoughts.
The pandemic is a strong reminder about the need to invest in science, technology, and innovation (STI) to tackle such catastrophes. Without the timely intervention of the global scientific community, it would have been impossible to rein in the spread of the current pandemic. And this pandemic is certainly not the last that we will see. Hence, there is no alternative but to leverage the benefits of modern science and technology for the sake of building our capacity and resilience against such pandemics.
The development and sharing of new innovations and technologies, are powerful drivers of economic growth and sustainable development, not limited only to crisis management. The 2030 Agenda aptly recognizes that STI has great potentials to accelerate human progress, and to develop knowledge-based societies.
And this is critical in building preparedness and resilience, and to finding solutions to other challenges such as climate change, disasters, and outbreaks of endemic diseases. True more so, for the developing countries, especially the LDCs, who have structural deficiencies and underlying challenges. The Decade of Action for the delivery of sustainable development goals by 2030, presents us with an opportunity to reimagine and reconfigure the use of STI for accelerated and transformative action.
Deeply entrenched stereotyping of gender roles in society, systematically keep girls and women away from science throughout their education life, thus limiting their options to go into these fields as adults. This is validated by a UNESCO report of last year which shows that women’s share in the global R&D jobs is only 30%.
Yet, in this pandemic, we saw millions of women health workers on the frontline in the fight against the virus. And then we have Dr. Ozlem Tureci, who along with her team developed one of the first Covid-19 vaccines! Thus, women in science, if given the opportunity can indeed break new frontiers. Having more women in science can raise women’s earnings by nearly $300 billion in the next decade. And it was also good to hear about the other shining examples of women in science from Ms. Shamila Nair. Thank you, UNESCO for your good work in promoting science.
Allow me to share a few points aimed at promoting STI in the developing countries and for reducing the gaps that exist:
First: we need to ensure more public investment in R&D. International research collaboration and networking, particularly among fellow women scientists can help reduce existing disparities.
Second, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the enormous potentials of innovative applications of ICTs in our societies and workplace. It is imperative to invest more in a digital future that would eliminate all kinds of barriers for women in cyber space. Women scientists and innovators can play an important role to provide practical solutions specific to the needs of women.
Third, the fourth industrial revolution has led to an unprecedented surge in machine learning and artificial intelligence. As machines take over most of the physically intensive works, many artificial barriers between men and women are likely to be eliminated. We must create equal opportunities for women, especially in the developing countries to reap the benefits of these emerging technologies.
Fourth: we need to invest in STI to harness its full potentials. While public-private partnership is a tested means, we also need support from the development partners. We need more gender specific grants and funds in the fields of STEM in the developing countries.
South-South and Triangular Cooperation could also be a means to foster STI targeting women, especially for women in the south. The LDC Technology Bank could be a useful source to tap into in this regard.
Finally, to reduce gender disparities in science, we must promote female mentors and role models, improve institutional culture towards gender equality, prevent discrimination in scientific professions in terms of employment, promotion and retention within S&T careers.
We have no alternative to promoting and empowering women in science to implement successfully the 2030 Agenda and for the greater socio-economic development of humanity as a whole. I thank you.