Gender equality stands at the root of all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Equal education, including access to science, technology and innovation, aren’t aimed only at the poorest and least privileged populations, but at women and girls everywhere.
Although countries are moving closer to narrowing gender gaps in education, we still need great efforts to ensure all women and girls earn equal opportunities in education. The Syria crisis has notably shaken the education infrastructure causing fewer girls in schools. According to the 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), there are more than 1 in 3 schools damaged or destroyed while others are being used as collective shelters or for other purposes. And when conflict erupts, the impact on girls may be worse, because of social standards and priorities distributed by gender. Based on the 2018 HNO, enrollment and attendance levels of girls in schools have dropped considerably low due to fear of violence and attacks. It appears that marriage is becoming a safe haven to girls and their families.
Science and technology will play a pivotal role in advancing development and will have significant effects on achieving the internationally agreed development goals. That it is why it is important to facilitate efforts to reduce the gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), improve education and ensure equal and decent opportunities for all.
Today, we observe enthusiastic youth leading intellectual change through social media worldwide. In Syria, the community witnessed shifts in the type of vocational and capacity building activities supported by the international organizations where the inclusion of girls in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and STEM is a primary focus in the youth programming, like ChangeMakers.
Aiming to build an environment where girls are more confident and comfortable doesn’t have to be costly. Yet, it will create a lifelong impact. It is important to put efforts in the younger generation stimulating their desire to continue their education in the STEM fields. Why is this so important? Because when women and girls have equal access to and control of technology, the positive outcomes are relatively major.
Already today, technology offers new forms of income generation. In November 2017, Mckinsey Global Institute published a report, called "What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills and wages", illustrating the potential net employment changes for more than 800 occupations worldwide and results reveal a rich mosaic of potential shifts in occupations in the years ahead.
Solely, we can’t change the fact girls make up a very small percentage of the developers, software engineers, and scientists. However, we can surely change the social norms in the long run by supporting youth initiatives and advancing the inclusion of girls in different leadership and tech endeavours.
ChangeMakers - a youth-led initiative aiming to reduce the gender gap in technology and make role models for young girls who are wishing to pursue their careers into the STEM was adopted by UNFPA in Syria in early 2016. “We believe we can only create a difference by lifting the lives of the young girls and giving them an opportunity to live a simplified experience of what it is to be a girl in STEM, particularly Technology,” Mohammed Abbas, initiative coordinator.
By raising more young girls who are not afraid of codes and technology and fewer boys who think it is exclusively a masculine field, ChangeMakers and I believe this could build bridges into a more just world for both genders and embrace new innovative techniques besides the traditional ones to achieve gender equality.
You may check what ChangeMakers does in Syria by clicking the link: ChangeMakers.co