21.11.2011 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

Successful launch of debates on gender and bioethics in Tatarstan

© UNESCO - Dafna Feinholz, UNESCO Chief of the Bioethics Section

On 21 November 2011, the high profile conference on Gender and Bioethics, jointly organized by UNESCO, the Kazan State Medical University and the government of Kazan was opened in Tatarstan (Russian Federation) by an inaugural address of Professor Alexey Sozinov, Rector of the university.

He stated that the social construction called “gender” has a fundamental effect on social processes, and that bioethics has the potential to solve the gender inequality that at the same time emerges through these processes. Pilar Alvarez-Laso, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, pinpointed UNESCO’s imperative to address the serious gender gap that exists in many areas of biological and life sciences and their applications.

For the introductory session, Dafna Feinholz, UNESCO Chief of the Bioethics Section, Jane Freedman, UNESCO gender specialist, and Alla Ampar, from the UNESCO Office in Moscow, presented UNESCO’s activities in the field of bioethics and gender equality.

A round table composed of feminist bioethicists and specialists more generally introduced the issue of gender as a cultural specific social construct, and described how it got linked to bioethical concerns as well as reflections specific to care ethics and justice ethics.

During the afternoon sessions, experts from Spain, India, Slovakia and the Russian Federation discussed main ethical issues and challenges in bioethics, first from the gender perspective in education, and second from the gender perspective in health in the specific clinical setting and public health.

A very rich debate concluded the first conference day, mainly highlighting the diversity of definitions of bioethics in itself when viewed within different cultural settings and its multi-polarity when seen through the gender perspective.

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