23.10.2017 - GENDER

TeachHer Regional Teacher Workshop in Panama

How to inspire girls to study science, technology, engineering, art/design and maths (STEAM)? This is the topic of a regional training session in Panama City which began on the 21 October. It brings together 70 educators, administrators, and policy-makers, including representatives from the Education Ministries of Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua.

The six day event is part of the TeachHer Initiative designed to address this gender gap by working with global, regional and local partners to provide countries with capacities to engage girls in STEAM fields in middle schools.  

Despite high global demand in the technology and engineering fields, women are still severely under-represented in the STEAM workforce, across all regions of the world. Women comprise less than 30 percent of science and development researchers and less than 20 percent of engineering positions.

A growing number of girls and women are interested in STEAM fields yet we see the enrolment numbers decrease as they move up in the education system. Research shows that if girls are not given opportunities to engage with STEAM subject by early adolescence, they are unlikely to pursue education and careers in these fields.

The TeachHer Initiative aims at equipping educators to deliver innovative, hands-on instructions for adolescent girls, opening the door to high-demand STEAM careers in fields where women are greatly under-represented. As part of its priority gender equality, UNESCO is a core partner of the initiative along with other organizations including the International Institute for Education (IIE), Microsoft, FitBit, the Higher Life Foundation, and others.

The event was opened by the First Lady of Panama, Ms. Lorena Castillo García de Varela, and the Minister of Education of Panama, Ms. Marcela Paredes de Vasquez, in front of 250 people, including 100 secondary school students. Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Director of the Division for Gender Equality of UNESCO, Ms. Saniye Gülser Corat thanked Panama for hosting the event and hoped the training would inspire a new generation of girls to pursue STEAM subjects in the region.

The TeachHer Initiative was launched in June 2016 by the then Second Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, and UNESCO Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokova. This multi-regional programme has already trained over 250 educators across 18 countries in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean.

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