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Women, Science and Technology
Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), 25-28 January 1999

Ouagadougou Declaration


PREAMBLE    Back to top

We, the participants in the present Forum held as a prelude to the World Conference on Science for the Twenty-first Century,

Having made a critical study of the situation of the continent, and in particular that of women, chiefly characterized by:

  • low school attendance among girls, with barely one girl of school age in four receiving a primary education;

  • high illiteracy among women, especially in rural areas where six to nine women out of ten can neither read nor write;

  • a low level of scientific and technical culture in the population overall, and among women in particular;

  • an insufficient representation of women in scientific professions, and especially in decision-making;

  • the almost total lack of any real policy on science and technology;

Given  that such a situation constitutes:    Back to top

  • an injustice toward women, thus depriving them of the intellectual and practical means indispensable to improving their living conditions in economic and political contexts that are becoming increasingly difficult (structural dysfunction linked to the many-faceted crisis affecting Africa, to which must be added the various conflicts that continue to plague the continent);

  • as well as a considerable waste of human resources, given the essential role African women play in society: child rearing, family responsibility (nutrition, care, hygiene), management of natural resources (water, energy sources), agricultural production, fishing, crafts, small trade and odd jobs in the informal sector;

Underlining that:    Back to top

  • the World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien, Thailand, 1990) assigned absolute priority to the need to ensure that girls have access to education and to improving the quality of the education that they receive;

  • the Third International Conference on Women (Nairobi, Kenya, 1985), in its Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women by the year 2000, emphasized the urgency of increasing the number of girls and women receiving a scientific or technical education and to encourage them to play a greater role in improving technologies for development;

  • the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women (Beijing, China, 1995) reaffirmed, in its Declaration and its Platform for Action, that it was vital to improve women’s access to vocational, scientific and technical education as well as to continuing education in order to achieve the conditions for durable development working to serve the individual;

Have decided to work to create a society that guarantees men and women equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities in all fields, and more particularly in the field of science and technology, as well as ensuring their joint participation in the development of the African continent.

APPEAL    Back to top

To this end, we are launching a solemn appeal:

To the governments of our Member States    Back to top

So that they will adopt and implement the necessary legislation and appropriate regulatory and institutional measures that will facilitate the advancement of women and girls in the field of education in general and more specifically in the field of scientific and vocational training.

With this view in mind, we ask them to pursue and intensify their efforts in order:

  • to eradicate certain sociocultural factors that force girls and women into imposed, fixed roles;

  • to promote informal education suited to the interests and aspirations of women and underlining the advantages that scientific and technological knowledge would procure for their future;

  • to make use of the scientific and technological potential of African women: the knowledge, know-how, life skills, handed down over the generations in numerous fields (pediatrics, pharmacology, culinary practices);

  • to renovate the scientific and technical teaching programmes and materials in order to make them more attractive to girls;

  • to create technical training programmes for girls and women that integrate the advances made in science and technology;

  • to adapt training of trainers policies as regards gender, i.e. social equality between the sexes

  • to promote women to decision-making positions in the field of science and technology;

  • to create a new regional, national and international partnership aimed at promoting African girls and women in the realm of science and technology;

To the Director-General of UNESCO    Back to top

So that he will support the broad dissemination of the conclusions of the Regional Forum of Africa and that, jointly with the partners of UNESCO, he will provide the Organization’s support in implementing the Regional Action Plan designed to strengthen the initiatives of the governments with a view to promoting girls and women in the field of science and technology;

To the international scientific community    Back to top

So that, by creating favourable conditions, it will encourage and support girls having reached a satisfactory scientific and technological level to continue their studies in higher education and research and to advance in their career.

To partners in development    Back to top

So that they will, in their cooperation programmes with African states, grant high priority to the training and participation of women in scientific and technological activities.

To the non-governmental organizations and local associations    Back to top

So that they will help populations, especially rural populations, become aware of the importance of science and its applications in improving their living conditions, and also become aware of the vital role women can play in the development of their countries, by investing in scientific and technological activities.

Adopted in Ouagadougou on January, 28, 1999


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