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Building peace in the minds of men and women

STEM and Gender Advancement (SAGA)

Improving Measurement and Policies for Gender Equality in STI

The STEM and Gender Advancement (SAGA) project is a global UNESCO project launched in 2015 to strengthen UNESCO’s work in support of gender equality in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).
SAGA’s main objective is to offer governments and policymakers a variety of tools to help reduce the current global gender gap in STI fields existing at all levels of education and research. By reaching this objective, the SAGA project will contribute to increase the visibility, participation and recognition of women’s contributions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

SAGA was supported from 2015 until November 2018 by the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

The project’s goals are achieved by using two approaches, namely, by surveying policies affecting gender equality in STEM, and by identifying and designing relevant indicators.

The project focuses on four main activities:

  • Develop a methodology and tools to support policy-makers worldwide in setting up, implementing and monitoring gender equality in STI policies;
  • Conduct training workshops in pilot countries to reinforce capacities;
  • Collect STI gender-related policies and instruments and sex-disaggregated data;
  • Advocate on the importance of improving STI gender-related policies and instruments and collecting sex-disaggregated data.

UNESCO assists through the SAGA project Member States around the world by:

  • building capacity for the collection of data on gender in STI;
  • improving the measurement and evaluation of the situation of women and girls in STI;
  • identifying gaps in the policy mix and improving national STI policies related to gender.

STI plays a crucial role in meeting the internationally adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. Unless addressed in time, women’s lack of participation in STI fields might prevent many nations from reaching these goals. The SAGA project contributes to the promotion of girls and women by offering tools and technical assistance to countries to attract and retain them in STEM fields. This will support directly the achievement of SDGs, especially targets:

5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life, 5.c: Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels, and


9.5: Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending.


17.18: by 2020, enhance capacity building support to developing countries, including for LDCs and SIDS, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.


By working towards these goals and harnessing women's full potential in STEM fields, countries will reach higher levels of development, increase their research output and build capacity, thereby reducing inequalities and knowledge gaps. This, in turn, will enable countries to achieve many other STI-based SDG targets.

The SAGA project has already had a strong positive influence within the participating countries with a groundbreaking methodology and set of tools to support governments and policy-makers in the establishment of STI gender-related policies.

Key numbers

Policy Impacts:

  • Some pilot countries (such as Gambia, Argentina, Uruguay and the province of Quebec) have included gender equality in STI in their national strategies and plans, and others are instituting new policies, laws or programmes addressing the status of women in STI (such as Haiti and Sudan).
  • SAGA’s work influenced the UNESCO “Recommendations on Science and Scientific Researchers” as well as the international Declaration of the 8th World Science Forum on Science for Peace.
  • The implementation of STI policies and policy instruments focused on gender equality is a long-term process, however some pilot countries have included gender equality in STI in their strategies and plan and are instituting new policies, laws or programmes addressing the status of women in STEM. In some cases, new positions have been created.
  • Gambia reviewed the existing national STI policy considering the recommendations of the SAGA implementation and created a gender unit within the Gambian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, and they strengthened the existing units in higher education institutions in the country.
  • In the Province of Quebec, a position of counsellor for equality, diversity and inclusion was created at FRQ to implement actions focused on equality in STEM. Furthermore, in terms of inclusion of gender equality as a component of a government policy several policy instruments have already been revised with the input from the SAGA project.

The SAGA Database is a repository of policies and instruments focused on gender equality in science, technology and innovation (STI) collected from more than 50 countries across the world during the implementation of the project. It is a digital tool intended for decision-makers, key stakeholders, and specialists wishing to consult and review a large inventory of gender-related policies and instruments in STI It can also be used in capacity-building activities.