Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science.
In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/70/212 declared February 11th as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
There are many examples of women who are taking up leadership positions and making significant social contributions. In October, Canadian scientist and astronaut, Julie Payette took on an important new leadership role when was sworn in as Canada’s 29th Governor General. Already a respected leader in her field, her long list of accomplishments in the fields of science and technology include two space flights on which she logged over 611 hours in space. At her inauguration she urged Canadians and global citizens to reach for their dreams and join forces to tackle the pressing problems of climate change, migration and poverty.
The new Governor-General spoke about the importance of working for the common good of society; "I'm a true believer in the strength of teamwork, in the power of dreams and in the absolute necessity of a support structure.”
Julie Payette’s ideals and achievements, along with her leadership role, resonate soundly with this year’s International Women’s Day global call to action to “press for progress”. We press for progress by forging pathways into areas not previously accessible to women. We press for progress by supporting one another in reaching for the stars. In telling her story, Julie is clear that she had a lot of support on her journey. Young people need role models and encouragement to make their way. Until recently STEM occupations (science, math and technology) have been seen as non-traditional choices for women. We press for progress when we support little girls to dream about, and work toward whatever they aspire to. Our Governor General is an astronaut. #PressforProgress.