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FORUM II
PROGRAMME THEMATIC MEETINGS

II.4   Gender Mainstreaming in
Science and Technology

 

Science with women and women in science: an imperative partnership for achieving a new commitment for science and building sustainable human development.

Chair: Sjamsiah Achmad Indonesian Institute of Science, Indonesia
President: Tullia Carettoni President, Italian National Commission for UNESCO, Italy
Rapporteur: Geoffrey Oldham former Director, SPRU, University of Sussex, UK

Session co-ordinator: Renée Clair Programme Specialist, Basic Sciences Division, UNESCO
Local secretary: Cs. Bánayász Research Institute for Computer Science and Automation, HAS, Hungary


ABSTRACTS:

Science: the gender issues

Sjamsiah Achmad
Indonesian Institute of Science, Indonesia

Science is understood to include social sciences, engineering and technology or SET. Deliberations on the Gender issue will focus on the continuing prevalence of inequality between boys and girls, women and men in the access to the use or to the benefit, and in the opportunity to act as agents in the development and control of SET. Inequality will be demonstrated in the various dimensions of access to the use, development and control of SET access to the use of SET for human survival and improvement of human quality of life, access to opportunities to act as agents for the development of SET to meet the basic human needs. to ensure the preservation and rational use of the natural resources, both renewable and not renewable, and the proper functioning of the ecosystem as well as the quality of the environment including, social environment, access to act as agents in the process and structure of SET policy formulation and decision making. Differential impact of SET progress and their application to development on the life of men and women will also be demonstrated. Root causes of inequality and persistent barriers to women's equal and full participation in SET both as agents and beneficiaries will be identified. Finally, recommendations will be formulated for inclusion in both the World Declaration on Science and the use of scientific Knowledge and the Science Agenda Framework for Action.

Recommendations include policy and program interventions required to eliminate gender stereotyped, to carry out alternative actions for a set of numerical goals and time frames where visible, to formulate and use a conceptual framework for the collection, analysis and presentation of gender disaggregated data of women in SET, to develop expertise in gender analysis and its use in SET to monitor and evaluate progress in the equal and full participation of women in SET, both as agents and beneficiaries; to promote full and equal participation of women in specific community; to promote regional and international co-operation for the development of national expertise in the promotion of gender equality and equity in SET, as a strategic means towards sustainable progress of science in society and science for society.

A new" declaration of intent" on gender,
science and technology, and development

Geoffrey Oldham
former Director, SPRU, University of Sussex, UK

During 1994/5 a working group of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) considered the issue of Gender, Science and Technology for Development. Its report formed the basis of a set of recommendations from the Commission to the Economic and Social Council. These recommendations were accepted by ECOSOC.

One of the recommendations which has particular relevance to this conference was the proposal that all governments agree to adopt a Declaration of Intent on Gender, Science and Technology for Sustainable Development. It was believed that such a Declaration would be a modest extension of the Declaration on Human Rights. The Declaration of Intent identified six basic principles of equity regarding gender and science which it was felt could be adopted by all governments. However each country was invited to work out the specific details of how it would implement the principles in the light of its own local situation. To this end the Commission also recommended that each country establish an ad hoc committee to oversee the implementation of the Declaration.

The Declaration proposed that all governments agree to work actively toward the following goals:

  • To ensure basic education for all, with particular emphasis on scientific and technological literacy, so that all women and men can effectively use science and technology to meet basic needs.
  • To ensure that men and women have equal opportunity to acquire advanced training in science and technology and to pursue careers as technologists, scientists and engineers.
  • To achieve gender equity within science and technology institutions, including policy and decision-making bodies.
  • To ensure that the needs and aspirations of women and men are equally taken into account in the setting of research priorities and in the design, transfer and application of new technologies.
  • To ensure all men and women have equal access to the information and knowledge, particularly scientific and technological knowledge, that they need to improve their standard of living and quality of life.
  • To recognise local knowledge systems, where they exist, and their gendered nature as a source of knowledge complementary to modern science and technology and also valuable for sustainable human development.

What changes might the World Conference on Science make to these principles in the light of experiences over the past four years? Should a new Declaration of Intent be drafted for inclusion in the report from this conference? The presentation will explore these issues.

Research and informal education by women scientists
for sustainable development

Grace Alele Williams
Vice-President TWOWS; Nigeria

Research is the foremost request for sustainable development. What research are women concerned with and what are their problems?

More than 50% of the female adult population in many African countries are illiterate, but they are functional illiterates, who may be described as a force who keep their economy, because they have inquiring and innovative minds as well as practical approach to living.

The percentage of women in useful research in African countries is very small. Many of such women have reached the peak not by well designed programmed in their countries but by struggles of their parents, missionaries etc. They are exceptions rather than the rule.

It is claimed that women's research is an extension of the home concerned with the agriculture, health, nutrition, education, i.e. peaceful activities as against research in physics, biology, chemistry and technology more concerned with activities leading to war and domination.

Even with the use of information technology could not arise a situation where because education is not available (and science education is not available) to the masses of women intellectual colonialism is reintroduced into our societies.

What role therefore outside their main scientific research could the small number of women scientists play against a background of internecine warfare, ignorance, disease etc, to promote real scientific knowledge among the mass of illiterate adult women? This must be science that promotes learning as a process, a way of doing things that links scientific knowledge directly to the tool for overcoming barriers. It is only when such barriers are overcome that the large majority of women will come to understand areas like dept burden and the budget and their crucial need to participate in decision making in a democracy. Based on a statistical analysis the burden of this paper is to direct attention to linkage for scientific growth that should lead to sustainable development.

Gender equity as a structural component of the new paradigm
and commitment of science and technology

Gloria Bonder
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

At the turn of the millennium, the whole world is going through a major historical transformation of a multidimensional nature: scientific and technological, economic, social, cultural, political and geopolitical. While some people see in this rapid and global changing process the seeds of a new, modern and more fair society, others remind us that it is actually increasing social inequality and exclusion of large groups of people, and building a polarised world, with no possible reversal in the near future. In this context, there is a growing concern about the present and future development of science and technology, a preoccupation about how to establish a positive and concrete relationship between science and technology, human rights and ethical values; an on going discussion about how can it contribute to create a synergetic interaction between productivity, solidarity, safety and peace, that settled the ground for a sustainable an inclusive development in all countries and regions.

It is within this global perspective of the future of science and technology that the search of gender equity in society and particularly in this field of knowledge and action acquire its full meaning and potential. In this sense the purpose of this presentation is to present and discuss different approaches that have been used in the last two decades to document and explain how gender discrimination operates in different dimensions of science and technology, and describe some very innovative governmental and academic programs or actions that have being experimented to revert this situation.

Finally it will highlighted the specific situation of women in Latin America, describe the structural and cultural barriers they faced in their access and progress in this field, and present some new initiatives that are developed in the Region to "mainstream" gender equity in scientific and technological policies .In particular we will describe the process of integration of gender studies in the Argentinean Multiannual Plan of Science and Technology (1999- 2001). To end we will give some suggestions about how to promote a gender fair scientific education as a key to achieve the goal of scientific education for all in the next century.

The role of women in science
for sustainable human development

Aleksandra Kornhauser
International Centre for Chemical Studies, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Female and male scientists cooperated at the UNESCO European Regional Conference on Women in Science. The Conference overcame the traditional approaches in the struggle for women’s recognition by declaring the goals which are equally important for men and women, but will be reached only if both genders will develop their creativity to the maximum, thus achieving quality through equality.

The essential role of women scientists’ for the change of the "global intolerables" into developmental opportunities was stressed: for turning population explosion into reproductive health, poverty and environmental degradation into sustainable human development, and violence into peace and cooperation. All the knowledge and creativity of both, men and women in science, are needed for this change.

Even more - science alone cannot do it. For economic development, knowledge has to be further developed into know-how and applied in entrepreneurial activities. For an integrated, balanced social development, knowledge has to be combined with cultural values (local, national, global) to reach the level of wisdom, which alone can bridge the enormous gaps between our starting points and our ambitious goals. Reaching these goals is, however, not only essential for development, it is the condition for survival. Much stronger engagement of women scientists in creating and disseminating new knowledge, and in development of its economic potential, as well as of its social harmonizing power, is crucial for sustainable human development. Women in science have to play an essential role in widening the mission of universities and other research organizations by developing them into centres of research, education and innovation.

Neglecting the talent, the creative power and the social harmonizing potential of women - i.e. half of the world’s population - is an unforgivable waste. It has to be considered as the fifth - or maybe the first - of the "global intolerables", as a most serious social disease. Examples of this disease were discussed at the Conference: deficit of women scientists at top level university management and professorial posts; practical exclusion of women scientists in development policy creation; discrimination against women scientists in recruitment for leading positions in research; feminization of professions with low resources, status and capacity to generate excellence in research and education; and ignoring women scientists in delivering awards and other forms of recognition. Among the reasons, obsolete attitudes about the social role of women, direct and indirect discrimination based on exploitment, inadequate family education, and absence of proper child care provision, were stressed.

Women in general, and women scientists in particular, have the potential for a major contribution to sustainable human development, particularly through their humanistic understanding of the role of science and technology, solidarity in sharing their benefits, careful judgement of unwanted side effects in applications of science on society and the environment, and - as leaders - ability to change ruthless competition into competitive cooperation for achieving common goals. It is high time to recognize that these women’s talents are essential for today and the future, and should therefore be most welcome and carefully developed. It is the task of men and women at the World Conference on Science to propose measures to tap these talents - or, to be more precise: primarily of men, since they hold today the majority of decision making positions.

Promoting science learning for girls and women:
policies for human resources development

Shirley Malcom
AAAS, USA

No matter what the level of natural resources present within a country, ultimately its development depends on the knowledge, skills and capacity of its people. Girls and women, as half of the world's population must be viewed as intellectual assets and provided opportunities to enhance their education. This is including their education in science and technology.
Women often play special roles within the society and the family that makes it even more important that countries invest in their education and literacy within science and technology:

  • as children's first teachers;
  • as caregivers and health providers for children and the elderly;
  • as growers of food and maintainers of households;
  • as participants in the paid economy;
  • and as entrepreneurs.

The relationship between women's education and control of family size has also been noted.
Policies to support development of human resources for science and technology must include specific attention to gender concerns at all levels including:

  • access to primary education;
  • explicit inclusion of science, mathematics and technology within efforts to promote literacy;
  • incentives to promote the education of female as well as male children;
  • monitoring progress through the collection of gender desegregated education data;
  • opportunities for young women to pursue secondary education in all areas of science and engineering
  • as well as equal opportunity to pursue tertiary and graduate study based on interest and performance.

Science and technology for development:
the gender dimension

Senator Dr. Farkhonda Hassan
Vice-President, TWOWS, Egypt

Science and Technology have a profound effect on the search for feasible pathways towards sustainable development strategies. However, the impact of Science and Technology on societies has not yet been uniformly beneficial. Policies and plans for the use of Science and Technology for development are gender insensitive, and do not respond to the needs and aspirations of both men and women equitably. Women's concerns and interests still appear to be unrecognized. Failure to recognize the differential impact of technical change on the lives of men and women is likely to have a negative impact on the development process as a whole. The gender insensitivity of the use of Science and Technology in development planning is well documented and is illustrated by several examples all over the world, particularly in developing countries.

Key policies for the use of Science and Technology must recognize the gender specific nature of development, and aim at maximizing the benefits to be derived from Science and Technology for all members of society. Gender-biased Science and Technology interventions for development, that are designed only from the perspective of men's lives, cannot generate sustainable human development for communities at large.

It is important to emphasize that gender planning is not an end in itself but a means to bring a different perspective and a new intellectual dimension which will be reflected in the nature of the development process to render it to a development that does not generate merely growth but growth with justice and equity.

 

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