An NGO, working to Advance STEM Education for African Women (WAAW) Foundation, on Monday said female empowerment on STEM education was a powerful tool for significant change.
WAAW’s main mandate is training of girls and teachers on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Nigeria and Africa.
Dr Unoma Okorafor, the Chief Executive Officer of the foundation said this in a statement in Abuja to commemorate the 2018 International Day for Women and Girls in Sciences held on Feb.11.
“As we look to the future, the task before us remains daunting.
“Technology continues to evolve and Africa continues to grapple with its exploding youth population and major challenges.
“We are, however, confident that STEM education, technology innovation and female empowerment remain front and centre as the most powerful tools to deliver significant change,” Okorafor said.
She said the low number of women and girls’ participation in STEM had been affected by culture and the system of education prevalent in the country and the continent.
According to the WAAW chief, the foundation is committed to ensuring that African girls achieved their dreams.
“WAAW Foundation is building a movement committed to our ideals, a world in which every African girl knows her voice, her dreams are valid and she is empowered to contribute to economic growth.
“While we recognise that our path will be wrought with challenges, we are ready, excited and equal to the task.
“We will keep pushing until a girl from a remote village in Africa builds the next giant technology company in the world, solving problems for billions globally,” Okorafor said.
The Director-General, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay, and Executive Director, UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, expressed concern over the cultural barriers militating against women and girls’ participation in STEM.
The two top UN officials in separate statements to mark the day, stressed that negative imagery had made it difficult for girls to believe they could be scientists, explorers or inventors.
They said the future would be marked by scientific and technological progress which “will be the greatest when it draws on the full talent, creativity and ideas of women and girls in science”.
They said the rapidly growing science and technology sectors “are vital to national economies’’.
The UNESCO director-general said its data showed that only about 30 per cent of all female students in higher education select the so called STEM subjects.
Azoulay said one of the main tools for tackling gender inequality in the sciences was dismantling the barriers to girls and women at home, in the classroom and in the workplace.
She said this required a change in attitudes and the challenging of stereotypes. (NAN)