The idea for an International Day of Women and Girls in Science was generated during the Inaugural 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 (DESA), and held on 10-11 February 2015 at the United Nations Headquarters, with the participation of government Ministers and representatives, UNESCO, UN-Women, WHO, UNRWA, UNICEF, UNFPA, Every Woman Every Child Initiative, etc. Most of the distinguished guests and speakers at the Inaugural Forum, whether at ministerial, intergovernmental, diplomatic, academic or professional levels, were Women in Science.
The Outcome Declaration of the Inaugural World Women’s Health and Development Forum, which the participants contributed to and approved by acclamation, and presented officially at the Closing Ceremony to the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, reflects an ambitious global action agenda and serves as a Road Map for women’s health and development.
In implementing one of the points of the Inaugural World Women’s Health and Development Forum Declaration, RASIT’s Executive Director HRH Princess Dr Nisreen El-Hashemite wrote a letter on 30 April 2015 to H.E. Mr. Sam Kutesa, President of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly, requesting on behalf of all participants at the Inaugural World Women’s Health and Development Forum — governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, academic institutions, professionals, youth and non-governmental organizations – that he kindly take the necessary steps to set in motion the mechanisms for the UN General Assembly to declare 11 February an International Day for Women in Science.
As soon as we communicated to President Kutesa concerning next steps in creating the foundation for the proposed International Day of Women in Science, RASIT sought the further counsel of the Office of the President of the General Assembly, which provided suggestions for consideration of a proper orientation for a way forward.
RASIT, and in close collaboration and partnership with the Government of the Republic of Malta, sought the leadership of the Permanent Mission of Malta to the United Nations to facilitate the consultations that would lead to the introduction of a draft resolution in the Second Committee under Agenda Item 22(b), Globalization and interdependence: science and technology for development.
During October and early November, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Malta facilitated a series of informal consultations with Member State delegates for the purpose of perfecting the draft resolution of creating an annual commemoration to be inscribed on the official UN Calendar of Observances for an International Day for Women and Girls in Science. A representative of RASIT served as an informal consultant to the Permanent Mission of Malta throughout the consultations.
As informal consultations proceeded, a number of Member States decided to join the list of co-sponsors. On Friday, 4 December, a dream became a reality, when the Second Committee adopted without a vote draft resolution, A/C.2/70/L.4/Rev.1, proclaiming annually on 11 February a commemoration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
On 22 December 2015, an historic moment was reached in which the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 70/212 at 16.00 (USA EST) proclaiming February 11th annually the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The adoption of the resolution was watched by women in science from around the world. The sponsorship of more than 65 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 and preparation.
The partnership between the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) and the Government of the Republic of Malta illustrates Sustainable Development Goal 17, which is Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.