UN chief calls for actions to close gender gaps in innovation

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for actions to close gender gaps in science, technology, and innovation, saying women’s full contributions will benefit all.

“The math is simple: without the insights and creativity of half the world, science, and technology will fulfill just half their potential,” Guterres on Monday told the opening of the 67th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The priority theme of the two-week meeting is “innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”, Xinhua news agency reported.

The theme could not be more timely, Guterres said, “because as technology races ahead, women and girls are being left behind.”

Three billion people are still unconnected to the Internet, and the majority of them are women and girls in developing countries. In the tech industry, men outnumber women two to one, and in the field of artificial intelligence, only about one out of five workers is a woman, he said.

He pointed to “centuries of patriarchy, discrimination, and harmful stereotypes” that have created a huge gender gap in science and technology, noting that women account for just 3 percent of Nobel Prize winners in science categories.

“Promoting women’s full contributions to science, technology, and innovation is not an act of charity or a favor to women. It is a must and it benefits everyone,” the UN chief stressed.

For example, when women scientists and technologists tackle global problems, they multiply the chance of finding solutions, he said.

Guterres urged increasing education, income, and employment for women and girls, particularly in the Global South.

He also called for promoting women’s and girls’ full participation and leadership in science and technology, from governments to board rooms and classrooms, as well as creating a safe digital environment for women and girls.

“The meeting this year comes at a time when women’s rights are being abused, threatened, and violated around the world,” said Guterres, warning that “progress won over decades is vanishing before our eyes” and “gender equality is growing more distant”.

“Let’s be clear: global frameworks are not working for the world’s women and girls. They need to change,” he said.

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