Investing in Science, Technology and Innovation

Investment in science, technology and innovation (STI) is essential for economic development and social progress. Research and development (R&D) can foster sustainable development by building greener, more inclusive societies. To be effective, however, infrastructure development, technology transfer and both public and private R&D need to be nurtured and regulated via effective policies.

UNESCO ROSA provides countries with guidance in developing or revising their national STI policies. Since innovation is central to translating scientific knowledge and technological know-how into useful products, services and employment, UNESCO ROSA is fostering closer linkages between universities and industry.

Science, Engineering and Technology hold important answers to key questions like climate change and sustainable development that we must address today. An estimated 2.5 million new engineers and technicians are required in sub-Saharan Africa alone to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of improved access to clean water and sanitation. To achieve such goals there is need to attract every young mind to the Science, Technology, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) fields, especially in Africa. UNESCO ROSA works with member states to empower people in STEM related subjects at higher learning. Particular attention is given to the girl child who are underrepresented in the STEM field yet they are the people who are mostly affected as they work to feed their families.

What has been done so far?

  • L’ORÉAL-UNESCO for women in science fellowships

L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science fellowships have reinvigorated, encouraged and honoured women scientists all over the world. More than 2,500 researchers from 112 countries have been distinguished for their extraordinary discoveries and supported at key moments in their careers. UNESCO ROSA is at the center of organizing the Sub-Saharan fellowships, 14 fellowships are awarded every year to deserving women in the science and engineering field. The top 3 selection criteria for the fellowship are: the candidate’s outstanding academic records (including number, quality and impact of the publications (impact factors to be submitted), conference presentations, patents…), the scientific quality of the research project, and the innovative nature and productivity of the research and its potential application in science.

  • Girls, science and engineering conference

The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa in Harare conducted a joint program with Digitally Smart, an NGO in the UK on empowering African women in Science and Technology. UNICEF Zimbabwe and the UNESCO Harare Education Unit have held girl camps and science fairs with the aim of increasing women participation and collaboration in STEM through  women in STEM monthly networking events, women in STEM mentors forum and mentors workshops.

  • World Science Day

UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa in partnership with member states in the region and the Transformative Gender Institute holds Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career fairs/ workshops celebrates World Science Day for Peace and Development with other countries world-wide. The aim is to create a platform for citizens to learn about science, technology and engineering and how these can be means to end poverty and create employment for the young people in the region.

  • International Day of Women and Girls in Science

The STEM 4 GIRLS 2017 event was held at Bindura University of Science Education in Zimbabwe to commemorate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Its aim was to inspire and motivate young girls to pursue careers in STEM by giving them practical insights into the wonderful opportunities available from studying STEM.

UNESCO believes the inclusion of women in STEM education is crucial to maximizing human resources, improving economic conditions, and more importantly, empowering women. Getting more women into STEM fields will help to lower international poverty rates, provide new perspectives in the STEM fields, increase equality between men and women, and improve development efforts in third world countries.

The deficit in ‘technical socialization’, safe learning spaces and limited access to role models leads girls to avoid STEM professions, even when they have an affinity for related subjects at high school level. “STEM 4 GIRLS 2017” was therefore part of UNESCO’s efforts to motivate more girls to venture into STEM fields. The programme is designed to be run every year so as to lure more girls into science.

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