Background

The idea for an International Day of Women and Girls in Science was generated during the first High-Level World Women's Health and Development Forum organized by the Royal
Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) and The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and held on February 11th 2015 at the United Nations
Headquarters.

Following outreach to a number of partners and stakeholders at all levels and with RASIT’s partnership with the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties,
the Republic of Malta, a milestone year was reached in which the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution (70/212) proclaiming February 11th
annually the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.  The sponsorship of more than 68 countries and the approval of all Member States to the resolution signals the
global community's interest in transforming our world through achieving gender parity in educational opportunity and scientific participation.  

The First Commemoration was organised by the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) and held at the United Nations Headquarters, with participation by UN
Member States, the two focal points of UNESCO and UN Women, UN DESA, private sector, academia, and other civil society actors, including girls in science and a special
introduction of a "He for She" element.

The Second Commemoration, organised by the Royal Academy of Science International Trust and the Ministry of Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties of Malta,
will  be held at the United Nations Headquarters, during the Maltese Presidency of the European Union Presidency, and will focus firmly on the “Gender, Science and Sustainable
Development: The Impact of Media”.  

Introduction

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets are expected to stimulate action and to guide a sustainable development of the planet, embracing its economic,
social and environmental dimensions in a balanced way to spearhead societies towards a sustainable and equitable future.

An extraordinary level of political will has been revealed to shift the world onto a more sustainable and resilient path, building on the unfinished agenda of the Millennium
Development Goals, with the participation of all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnerships.  Making the inclusive world envisioned in the 2030 Agenda a
reality, and to ensure effective implementation for people, planet, and prosperity, the empowerment of women in science and the participation of the media are required.

Why Women in Science?
Science plays an important role for sustainable development from informing the formulation of evidence-based targets and indicators, to assessing progress, testing solutions,
and identifying emerging risks and opportunities. The Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Development Agenda pose a number of conceptual as well as implementation
challenges that will require enhancing the close collaboration between the policy and scientific communities and other stakeholders.

  • In social terms, the involvement of women in science is nothing less than a moral imperative. Gender equality beginning with access to educational resources is,
    according the 4th World Conference on Women, an inalienable, integral, and indivisible part of all human rights and freedoms.

  • In economic terms, the involvement of women in science is a necessity. They are regarded as an important factor of growth and development both in the case of developed
    and developing countries.

  • In terms of the environment, women in science play an essential role in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound patterns of consumption and production,
    along with approaches to natural resource management. Through their management and use of natural resources, women provide sustenance to their families and
    communities. As consumers and producers, caretakers of their families and educators, women play an important role in promoting sustainable development through their
    concern for the quality and sustainability of life for present and future generations.

  • In terms of culture, lack of access for women, and in particular to science, creates cultural barriers that ripple throughout communities, undermining the perception of these
    rights and freedoms among children, especially girls.

The Role and Impact of Media in:

    1. Empowering Women and Girls in Science

In recent years, scholarly interest in media portrayals of women in science has emerged as a focus of media studies research, because such portrayals reflect cultural views and
trends related to the status and roles of women in the workforce and society.

It is important to trace the underrepresentation and gender stereotyping found in portrayals of women in science in the mass media. Further, it is significant to define the role these
media portrayals play as factors that can limit the representation and status of women in the science workforce, and to examine the potential of  more progressive portrayals to
broaden the participation of girls in science.

Although overt sex discrimination is rare, women in science are battling engrained bias, both at the institutional and personal levels. These biases and inequalities need to be
tackled by enlightened policies and institutional good practice. But there are also some things that individual women scientists can do to boost their chances of success in a male-
dominated work environment. These include developing their ability to communicate and present their science with clarity, confidence and authority.

Thus, it is of great importance to raise the profile of women in science for a variety of reasons. First, to inspire young women currently considering their options at school; second,
to provide role models for women already studying science but uncertain whether they should pursue it further; and third, for justice.

There is an urgent need for more authoritative women in science voices in the media. Broadcasters themselves acknowledge that they would like to book more expert women in
science to appear on their programs, but struggle to find them!


    2. Achieving Sustainable Development

In order to achieve a sustainable society, behavioral change is necessary, and for this change in behavior   the public should have sufficient access to information, as well as an
opportunity to freely express views and opinions.

The media plays a crucial role in educating and making individuals, communities, and society conscious   about sustainable development, the need for more sustainable patterns
of production and consumption, and encouraging action directed towards change and a more sustainable future.  

The media are usually divided into printed media, the audiovisual media (including TV and radio), and the entertainment media (including cinema, drama, etc.)  and the electronic
media (including social media).  Being an integral part of the social system, the media is a major stakeholder in the realization of sustainable development worldwide.  

Culture has to be the 4th pillar of sustainable development: the psychological and sociological makeup of women and girls in science in a given culture must be taken into
account when implementing scientific   and technological innovations and strategies.

Scientific communication and strengthening the public understanding of science in general and the role of women in science in particular should be leveraged as a cultural
instrument, not only to inform or dialogue, but also to build a higher responsibility in women’s scientific research.  Society needs to acquire fundamental scientific knowledge and
attitudes for developing their cultural heritage since science and society are intrinsically related, and this is the role of the media.

Considering the fundamental role media occupy in national development, and that for sustainable development to become a reality in every country, the identified issues that
impede the achievement of sustainable development should be addressed, so that the media can effectively champion sustainable development efforts in all the sectors
including parity in science and women’s empowerment.


Objectives

The objective of the Forum is to explore ways in which both common global frameworks and regional, sub-regional, national, and local frameworks promote knowledge about and
support for women and girls in science. The one-day Forum, will investigate ways in which all actors can work together to ensure that women and girls in science are perceived
with dignity and recognized for their abilities.

The partnership between the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) and the Ministry of Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties of Malta provides a
unique opportunity to engage world leaders, UN officials, policy makers, scientists, educators, private sector, parliamentarians, civil society representing diverse constituencies
and other stakeholder communities from around the world.

The insights gained from this event will be used in preparing a policy strategy that will provide a framework for the empowerment of Women and Girls in Science and the impact of
Media in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals and parity in science.  The Forum anticipates providing an evaluation report in 2018 on the achievements of the outcome
document generated from this event.  This requires clear consideration on the role of women in science in all development strategies.  It also requires from policy-makers
rethinking on the manner in which policies are conceived and delivered.  It further requires development of partnership with media, private sector and other stakeholders.


Structure of Sessions

The sessions are designed to provide a platform for dialogue and exchange among the scientific and media communities, as well as facilitate interaction with other stakeholders.
The interactive sessions will be chaired by an invited Head of State, with Ministers and Inter-Governmental Organizations Senior Officials as respondents.  Each session will have
a 30-minute overview presentation followed by a 45-minute moderated discussion and interventions from participants.  A reporter for the session will provide final highlights and
conclusion of the session.
CONCEPT NOTE
“Gender, Science and Sustainable Development:
The Impact of Media”
2017
from Vision to Action
International Day of
Women and Girls in Science
February 11
Copyrights © 2017 Royal Academy of Science International Trust. All rights reserved
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10 February 2017
United Nations Headquarters
Conference Room 3
Watch 2nd Commemoration        Part 1     Part 2