The International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Advancing Equality in STEM
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
International Day of Women and Girls in Science

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, observed annually on February 11, signifies a worldwide commitment to promoting gender equality within Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Established by the United Nations General Assembly through resolution 70/212 on December 22, 2015, this day aims to underscore the significance of women's complete and equal participation in scientific endeavours. This article delves into the background, challenges, and commendable efforts surrounding this important day.

Challenges Encountered by Women

Historically, women have faced underrepresentation in science and technology, encountering persistent challenges in pursuing STEM fields. While there was a gradual increase in women obtaining science and engineering degrees from the 1960s to the 1980s, progress plateaued from the 1980s onwards.

Social barriers, including societal expectations for women's roles in the home, early marriage, and discriminatory practices in the labour market, have impeded women's pursuit of education and careers in STEM, particularly in developing regions such as Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean.

Contemporary Challenges and Regional Disparities

In the present day, social barriers to female participation persist, manifesting as pervasive gender biases. Studies in the United Kingdom reveal that girls are less likely to receive encouragement to study physics post the compulsory participation age.

Regional differences also play a role, with the United States experiencing lower enrollment and attraction to scientific education, while the Arab world witnesses high enrollment but encounters career and social barriers preventing further participation.

Adoption by the United Nations

The United Nations took a significant step towards addressing these challenges by adopting resolution 70/212, designating February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This resolution builds upon the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, emphasising the goals of quality education and gender equality.

UNESCO and UN Women have taken the lead in implementing this day, collaborating with governments, intergovernmental organisations, civil society, universities, and corporations to promote and celebrate women's contributions to scientific fields.

Annual Celebrations

Annually, the United Nations hosts the International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly, bringing together representatives from member states, international organisations, the private sector, and leading scientists. Co-sponsored by various nations, the assembly focuses on a central theme, shaping discussions and initiatives for that year.

Annual Themes of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

2016: "Transforming the World: Parity in Science"

2017: "Gender, Science and Sustainable Development: The Impact of Media - From Vision to Action"

2018: "Equality and Parity in Science for Peace and Development"

2019: "Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth"

2020: "Equality in Science, Technology and Innovation: Global Trends and Challenges"

2021: "Beyond the Borders: Equality in Science for Society"

2022: "Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us"

2023: "Innovate. Demonstrate. Elevate. Advance. Sustain. IDEAS: Bringing Everyone Forward for Sustainable and Equitable Development."

For 2024, the main theme for the 9th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly is: “Women and Girls in Science Leadership, a New Era for Sustainability,” with the subtheme being “Think Science ... Think Peace.”


The International Day of Women and Girls in Science serves as a poignant reminder of the progress made towards gender equality in STEM fields and the ongoing challenges that necessitate collective efforts to overcome.

Through annual commemorations, focused themes, and collaborative initiatives, the global community continues to champion the cause, inspiring future generations of women and girls to pursue and thrive in scientific pursuits. As we celebrate this day, it is crucial to reflect on our achievements and reaffirm our commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable environment for women and girls in science.

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