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Promoting women’s participation in policy-making processes

© WMO/ Clare Nullis
High-Level Panel on Women and Careers in Weather, Water, and Climate, 5 Nov 2014

Science, technology and innovation (STI) play a critical role in meeting internationally agreed development goals. Yet, they cannot foster equitable, inclusive and sustainable development unless the priorities, needs, concerns and abilities of both women and men are taken into consideration when formulating and implementing STI policies. A gender perspective needs to be applied to STI policy-making, which is still far from being a reality today.

UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector works to promote women’s participation in high-level processes shaping the science agenda and STI policies, thus ensuring that the unique perspectives of women scientists and women knowledge holders, including holders of indigenous and traditional knowledge, are incorporated into solutions to the various challenges of advancing sustainable and equitable development.


In this context, the World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in the developing countries (UNESCO-TWAS), together with the African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions (ANSTI), is supporting GenderInSITE, an international campaign specifically aimed at policy-makers with the objective to raise their awareness on the gender and Science, Innovation, Technology and Engineering (SITE) dimensions of development. The main message of this campaign is that SITE for developmental policies and programmes is more effective, equitable and sustainable when gender is taken into account – that is to say, when they reflect the vision, concerns, needs, knowledge and abilities of women and men from all over the world.

Furthermore, UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector is currently establishing an inventory of all STI related policies affecting, positively or negatively, gender equality and women empowerment. To that end, the Global Observatory of Science Policy Information (GO-SPIN) surveys are being conducted in selected countries  all over the world, especially in Africa and Latin America, and the results will feed into UNESCO’s global GO-SPIN database. The overall objective of the GO-SPIN project is to satisfy the growing demand of Member States for information on SITE policies as well as related policy instruments, legal frameworks, studies and indicators, in order to develop national and regional strategies, including on issues such as gender equality and women’s empowerment in these fields.

Focus on The International Conference on the Gender Dimensions of Weather and Climate Services

The International Conference on the Gender Dimensions of Weather and Climate Services (Geneva, 5-7 November 2014), organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), UNESCO, and other partners was a landmark international forum dedicated to discuss “how to equally empower women and men to build safer, stronger and more resilient societies through the provision and use of gender-sensitive weather and climate services”.

This event was a great success, with over 280 people from 92 countries and 32 international organizations participating. A key outcome of this Conference was the formulation of various recommendations for mainstreaming gender into weather and climate services so that women and men throughout the world can make equally informed decisions when it comes to food security, disaster risk reduction, water resources management, and public health in the context of changing climate. Recommendations and strategies were identified to empower women in climate science– where they represent less than one-third of professionals in meteorology and hydrology – and to enhance their overall participation in career opportunities related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Conference organizers and participants are now linked through a network on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in weather and climate-relevant science hosted by WMO. The network is facilitating the follow-up of pledges made at the Conference to increase the participation of women in climate science and policy-making processes, as well ensuring that men and women alike have access to the weather and climate information needed to formulate decisions for climate mitigation and adaptation.

Finally, recommendations were made to the governing body of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), and the outcomes of the conference were submitted to inform key international processes, such as the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, UNFCCC climate negotiations (via COP20 in Lima) and, ultimately, the review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action twenty years after its adoption.

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