UN calls for gender-sensitive approach in science development

Governments should take concerted steps to include women and their concerns in their efforts to boost economic growth through science, technology and innovation, a new report released December 12, 2011 by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has urged.

The report, titled “Applying a Gender Lens to Science, Technology, and Innovation,” argues that science, technology, and innovation (STI) will not have the broadly positive effects sought in less-wealthy regions of the world, if STI policies do not specifically take into account the needs and talents of half the global population based on an examination of women’s roles in a number of sectors such as agriculture, water, energy and transport.

The report contends that further gains in development depend on fully appreciating women’s engagement in economic life and in society.

“Policy should be attentive, not only to the differing impacts STI can have on men’s and women’s lives, but also to the significant part women play in economic growth. This approach should be followed throughout the process of STI policymaking: from policy analysis and design to implementation, monitoring and follow-up,” the report states.

The report therefore recommended to various governments to undertake the various policy action and also conduct impact assessments of policies related to STI for development to ensure that they benefit men and women equally.

It further asks governments to take into account the extensive work done by women in areas such as agriculture, water and energy use when developing STI policies and expand the education of women in scientific and technological fields, and in entrepreneurship, so that this reservoir of talent can boost economic growth and raise living standards.

Governments are also tasked by the report, to ensure that women have equal access to financing, land and markets, so that businesses they found and the science and research they perform can have their full developmental impacts, as well as support the participation of women in STI decision-making at all levels.

Explaining the relevance of the report, Anne Miroux, Director of UNCTAD’s Technology and Logistics Division said “Pursuing gender-sensitive STI policies is not only a human development issue; it is also smart economics.”

Meanwhile, UNCTAD in a statement says it is now working with the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), to provide a platform for the exchange of illustrative cases of gender-sensitive STI policymaking.

The next CSTD inter-sessional panel is being held in Manila from today December 13, to Thursday December 15, 2011.

By Ekow Quandzie

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