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By Mark DaCosta- On February 11, 2024, the world unites to observe the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This annual celebration emphasises and highlights the indispensable contributions of women to the realm of science. It serves, too, as a call for more women to get involved in such work, even though scientific endeavours are still dominated by males.
Originating from a United Nations resolution in 2015, this observance is a poignant reminder of the persistent gender gap in scientific, and related fields. The day pays homage to trailblazers who defied societal norms — and even stigma and persecution — to pursue their passion for science, paving the way for future generations.
This observance is of paramount importance in the quest for global gender equality. Across nations, women continue to be underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. For our world to progress, it is imperative that women actively engage and lead in these critical areas – because women bring a diversity of perspectives to the table.
Reputable international organisations, such as United Nations and the World Health Organization have repeatedly underscored the crucial role of women in scientific progress. Diverse perspectives are essential in addressing complex global challenges, making the observance of this day a key component of worldwide development.
Many Guyanese may know of the remarkable achievements of internationally renowned women in science. Marie Curie, a pioneering physicist and chemist of Polish and French citizenship, made groundbreaking contributions to radioactivity. She discovered the element Radium. Her work laid the foundation for advancements in medical diagnostics and cancer treatment. Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel laureate, revolutionised ecological activism, advocating for sustainable development and women’s rights. Jane Goodall, a British primatologist, redefined our understanding of primates through her extensive research on chimpanzees, becoming a leading voice in wildlife conservation.
Despite these global exemplars, the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields remains a universal challenge. STEM, encompassing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, shapes the future of our world. Breaking down societal stereotypes and dismantling systemic barriers are imperative steps towards encouraging more women to pursue careers in these fields.
Experts say that in promoting gender equality, we empower our daughters to dream beyond traditional roles. Initiatives in schools, mentorship programmes, and scholarships can play a pivotal role in bridging the gender gap in STEM. By investing in the education and empowerment of women and girls globally, we invest in a brighter, more inclusive future for humanity. Perhaps, in this sad period of educational turmoil in Guyana, the People’s Progressive Party government may pay attention to these realties and act accordingly.
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science serves as a global call to action. Let us embrace the spirit of this day by championing equality in STEM fields, fostering an environment where every individual, regardless of gender or nationality, can contribute to the scientific advancements that shape our shared destiny. Breaking barriers today will undoubtedly build a more inclusive and prosperous future for our global community and our country.