On March 14 and 15, 2016, I had the opportunity to represent WFEO Women in Engineering at the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, New York. This was the first time WFEO was invited to participate and it proved to be an impactful event. The Commission consisted of numerous reports prepared by UN Women, including an emphasis on two themes: the priority theme “Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development” and the review theme “The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”.
While these themes hit at the heart of severe issues women and girls face around the world, there was a session that was closer to the work we do at WFEO. The countries of Denmark, United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland hosted a session on “More women in science and technology – an investment in the future!”.
The main speakers were the Denmark and United Kingdom Ambassadors as well as the CEO of Lady Geek. While the information shared was similar to what we receive at a WFEO Women in Engineering Committee (WIE) meeting, it was refreshing to hear confirmation that the issues are the same and being reinforced.
Preliminary conclusions of the commission include numerous items on strengthening normative, legal and policy frameworks. I’m pleased to share that two specific areas relate to education and science as follows:
Promote and respect women’s and girls’ right to education throughout their life cycle at all levels, especially for those most left behind, by providing universal access to quality education, ensuring inclusive, equal and non-discriminatory quality education, and promoting learning opportunities for all, ensuring completion of primary and secondary education and eliminating gender disparities in access to all areas of secondary and tertiary education, promoting financial literacy, ensuring that women and girls have equal access to career development, training, scholarships and fellowships, and by adopting positive action to build women’s and girls’ leadership skills and influence; adopt measures that promote, respect and guarantee safety of women and girls in the school environment, and measures to support women and girls with disability in all levels of education and training;
Mainstream a gender perspective into education and training programs, including science and technology, eradicate female illiteracy and support school-to-work transition through skills development to enable women’s and girls’ active participation in economic, social and cultural development, governance and decision-making, and create conditions that facilitate women’s full participation and integration in the formal economy;
I look forward to seeing WFEO continuing to work with the future planners of this event as we have an expertise in WFEO that is not found in other organizations and can bring additional value to gather such as this.
Stacey M. DelVecchio, representing WFEO Women in Engineering at UN Headquarters; New York City, USA