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Women scientists: “The world need science and science needs women”

The second Eurasian Women’s Forum (EWF), which took place from September 19 to September 21, 2018, ended in St. Petersburg.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at the plenary session of the forum. The head of state noted that it is necessary to solve the problem of gender inequality in the world, remove stereotypes and career restrictions for women.

The Forum participants (about 2,000 persons) are female members of parliament, representatives of the executive authorities, international organisations, business circles, scientific community, public institutions and charity projects, as well as prominent leaders of the international feminist movement from 120 countries.

The Eurasian Women’s Forum is the world’s biggest influential platform for discussing the role of women in contemporary society. The Forum is aimed at consolidating and developing cooperation among female leaders for addressing urgent problems and strengthening the atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding in a world based on the universal values of humanism, rights and dignity.

The Forum organisers are the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS).

The first Eurasian Women’s Forum, held in 2015, provoked a broad public response and acquired a truly global character. It showed the increasing role of women in reinforcing peace and security, solving important socioeconomic and humanitarian problems. Over 1,000 participants from 80 countries unanimously supported the idea of holding the Forum on a regular basis – once every three years.

The second Eurasian Women’s Forum took place on 19–21 September 2018 in St. Petersburg at the Tavrichesky Palace.

Many international organisations took part in the Forum, such as UNIDO, UNISEF, APEC, UNESCO, UN. The level of participants was very high.

The programme of the second Eurasian Women’s Forum, while maintaining continuity with the first Forum, responds to the contemporary international agenda and complies with the UN General Assembly Declaration ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.

The Forum’s topic is ‘Women for Global Security and Sustainable Development’.

Women 20

The open session Women 20 (W20) (with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs) was one important session of EWF.

The Women 20 (W20) was established in May 2015 as a means of interaction between the G20 and social partners. Its mission is to support economic development in the G20 nations, with consideration given to increasing the role played by women in resolutions adopted in line with the group’s framework for strong, sustainable, and balanced growth. During Argentina’s presidency in 2018, the W20 has set itself the objective of drawing up specific proposals for G20 leaders to achieve full inclusion for girls and women in the labour market, digital economy, and agriculture, and also to provide them with full access to financial services. Participants will share their opinions on the W20’s priorities for the immediate future, including as part of Argentina’s and Japan’s presidencies in 2018 and 2019 respectively. They will also discuss the role of the G20 and key international organisations in broadening women’s economic opportunities and securing economic growth. Topics for discussion:

  • International cooperation in the interests of women, economies, and societies.
  • The W20: Main Achievements and Future Priorities.
  • The contribution of Women 20 to the G20 agenda in expanding women’s economic opportunities.

Moderator: Svetlana Lukash, Deputy Head of the Presidential Experts’ Directorate, Russian G20 Sherpa

Greeting: Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

Speakers: Susana Balbo, Chair of W20 Argentina; Karin Van Mourik, Member of the Board – Association of German Women Entrepreneurs, President of the Hear the World Foundation Deborah Greenfield, Deputy Director-General of the International Labour Organization; Reiko Kuroda, Professor, Research Institute for Science Technology, University of Tokyo ; Gülden Türktan, Founding President of Women20 (W20), Turkey

The role of women scientists in the global challenges of our time

One session was devoted to women-scientists: The role of women scientists in the global challenges of our time (with the participation of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], and with the support of Rossotrudnichestvo)

Women make up over half of the world’s population; however, only 30% of researchers across the globe are women. Less than 3% of Nobel Prizes in the field of science have ever been awarded to women. What is behind this gender inequality in science, and what is the solution? What role should international cooperation play? Topics for discussion were:

  • Global challenges of our times and the contribution made by women to the development of science and technology.
  • Getting girls and young women interested in science.
  • Gender inequality in science.
  • Facilitating uninterrupted careers in science for women with children
  • Popularizing the role of female scientists.
  • Developing and strengthening scientific and humanitarian cooperation internationally.

Moderators: Zinaida Dragunkina, Chair, Committee of the Federation Council on Science, Education, and Culture; Angela Melo, Director of Policies and Programmes, Division of Ethics, Youth and Sport; Sector for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO, Mozambique.

Speakers: Grigory Trubnikov, First Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Irina Donnik, Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), RAS Academician, Professor, Doctor of Biological Sciences; Sarah Harder, President of the National Peace Foundation, Professor at the University of Wisconsin– Madison in the United States; Tatyana Chernigovskaya, Head of the Laboratory for Cognitive Studies, Head of the Department of the Problems of Convergence in Natural Sciences and Humanities, St. Petersburg State University, Doctor of Science in Human Physiology Professor; Sun-Min Kim, General Director of Pushkin House Russian Culture and Education Centre in South Korea, Republic of Korea.

The Age of Digitalization: Equality of Opportunities

The session devoted to digitalization: “The Age of Digitalization: Equality of Opportunities” (with the support of the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, the Skolkovo Foundation, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, and the Interregional Federation of University-Educated Women), was connected with women-scientists problems also.

Digital technology is opening up new opportunities for women. The emergence of virtual business platforms and new ways to consume and exchange information make it possible to work flexible hours, work remotely, and combine business with other areas of life. What measures should be implemented to rapidly integrate women in the digital economy? What can be done for the adult generation to better adapt to new information technology? And what new approaches to teaching the next generation should be adopted? Topics for discussion were:

  • The role of digitalization in providing equal opportunities between man and women.
  • Women in the development of high-tech industries.
  • Measures to effectively integrate women in the digital economy.
  • Leading practices to promote digital skills to women and girls.

Moderators: Pekka Viljakainen, Senior Advisor to the President of the Skolkovo Foundation; Yekaterina Inozemtseva, General Director of Skolkovo Forum.

An open debate on Global Initiatives in Women’s Interests (with the support of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives) was organised. The discussion featured leading politicians, representatives of international organisations, major global and Russian corporations and NGOs. They talked about the efficiency and the role of global initiatives in solving the problem of equality of men’s and women’s rights in politics and economy, obstacles and opportunities for women’s political career development, their equal participation in political, economic, social and cultural life of the society, as well as existing and possible strategies that support women’s interests.

Russia became a platform for promoting women’s agenda

The Second EWF held over 40 discussion platforms. Its participants visited various exhibitions, workshops, business breakfasts, and other interactive events. They also enjoyed an intensive cultural programme. Valentina Matvienko highlighted that St. Petersburg’s guests were excited with what was happening around while striving to attend all the platforms possible. She mentioned: “We have been receiving loads of enthusiastic reviews and kind remarks on the event held. They come from individual participants and various organisations, including international ones”.

The Chairperson of the Federation Council hoped that Russia has become a recognised platform for making important decisions on women’s interests and modern universal issues. It was achieved largely due to the high level of the Forum’s organisation and relevance of the topics addressed.

According to Ms. Matvienko, the platforms of the Second EWF were carried out perfectly. The credit for this goes to the large close-knit team established throughout the Forum’s elaboration. The Chairperson of the Federation Council expressed her gratitude to everyone who participated in the event’s organisation and conduct. She also presented those people with Certificates of Merit. Valentina Matvienko highlighted the work of the news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community as well, mentioning the website will continue developing.

The Second EWF is over. However, the work continues. The event held gave an impetus for maintaining vibrant actions of women’s empowerment in Russia.

Moreover, according to Ms. Matvienko, now is the time to begin preparing the Global Women’s Forum planned for 2021.

The event moved beyond the Eurasian format and turned out truly global. Valentina Matvienko hoped that the Third Forum would move to a new level while bringing its participants even more positive emotions.

Several elements from the Resolution of the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum

Firmly determined to continue efforts to achieve equality between men and women as an integral part of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the interests of all mankind;

Calling for the creation of enabling environment for the full and equal participation of women in political, economic, social and cultural life, including through the adoption of appropriate national strategies for women;

Emphasising the importance of the widespread use of information technologies among women and supporting the work of the Eurasian Women’s Community permanent information and communications Internet portal

Firmly determined to provide women with equal and full access to economic resources, including land, credit, science and technology, professional training, information, communications and markets as a means of further improving the status of women, including by expanding their opportunities to enjoy benefits associated with equal access to such resources, in particular through international cooperation;

Participants WELCOME the efforts

  • to implement projects and initiatives for the further involvement of women in economic and social activities, including, inter alia, the development of the new global social compact;
  • to support the active role of the women’s community in the implementation of initiatives within such global and regional integration associations as the SCO, BRICS, APEC, the G20 as well as within the framework of the W20;
  • on the creation of an effective strategy for the development of charity and building international cooperation in the social sector, including on the basis of new technologies;
  • on facilitating the development and putting in place a mentoring institution for women that provides means for the exchange of knowledge and skills in the socioeconomic sphere;
  • on ensuring equal opportunities in employment and reducing the pay gap between men and women in professional activities, providing enabling environment for women to balance family responsibilities with work, through the provision of social benefits for women and supporting their competitiveness on the labour market; on the intention to establish the Eurasian Association of Female Regional Leaders, which shall include women heads of regional and local governance, parliamentarians, representatives of executive authorities and non-profit organisations, leaders of charity projects, and leaders of international organisations;
  • to improve women’s access to high-quality jobs by providing equal pay for work of equal value and accessible childcare services as well as to prevent violence and harassment in the workplace;
  • to help to overcome inequality between men and women in science and attract public attention to women’s achievements in the fields of science and charity ; to promote meaningful participation of women in science and to advance the moto “The world needs science and science needs women”;
  • to hold the next Eurasian Women’s Forum in 2021 and, given its importance as a major credible platform aimed at enhancing the role of women in the modern world, to grant it the status of a global women’s forum.

The Role of Women Scientists in the Global Challenges of our Time

Representatives of over 120 countries participated in the Second EWF. Find them and their presentations here.

Zinaida Dragunkina

Here we would like to share Zinaida Dragunkina presentation at EWF 2018. Ms Dragunkina is the Chair of the Committee of the Federation Council on Science, Education, and Culture.

The Second Eurasian Women’s Forum international expert session on “The Role of Women Scientists in the Global Challenges of our Time” (19–21 September 2018) brought together women who have achieved outstanding success in various areas of science, education, and public awareness in St. Petersburg’s Tavricheskiy Palace.

Women make up more than half the world’s population but only 30 percent of world researchers. Since the creation of the Nobel Prize in science, less than 3 percent of awards have been awarded to women. Session participants were tasked with finding the cause of the gender imbalance in science and ways to overcome it, what was keeping girls and young women from entering science, the main problem facing women scientists with children, and how to strengthen international scientific cooperation.

According to one of the session moderators, Angela Melo (Mozambique), Director of Policies and Programmes, Division of Ethics, Youth and Sport, Sector for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO, early marriages, pregnancy, and poverty lead to the total illiteracy of two-thirds of the female population of the planet. In this regard, UNESCO promotes gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women in access to education.

“You cannot leave behind half of the world’s population! Not because they are women, but because we are people,” Angela Melo said. The UNESCO representative recalled that girls were more successful in junior school and then in university, though they had an extremely difficult time breaking into the greater world of science, despite sharing potential equal to that of men. And nevertheless, they succeed. “The education of boys is important for us too,” Ms. Melo said. “In order not to drag science along afterwards without support, but to move it forward together with the men.” “Science even brings nations together,” session co-moderator, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, Russian accelerator physicist and academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Grigory Trubnikov added. Highly appreciative of the content of the session’s expert speeches, the deputy minister jokingly asked that it be taken into account that he “had not interfered with anyone and had not regulated anything today,” after which he agreed with the opinion that, when women scientists were coping with the challenge of managing the largest scientific laboratories, men needed to help by shouldering their share of the burden and creating social conditions that would motivate women to go into science.

The new law on science developed by the Ministry must reflect the promise repeatedly expressed by the speakers about the need to establish a gender balance.

However — the academician once again remarked to the audience’s delight — love, without which there was no life and, consequently, no science, would make short shrift of the gender crisis. To conclude the session, the moderator, Zinaida Dragunkina, Chair of the Committee of the Federation Council on Science, Education, and Culture, called on participants to approve by vote the final session communiqué, addressed to country and government leaders in cooperation with UNESCO and the UN and aimed at supporting girls and women to fully realise their potential as scientific researchers and innovators. The head of the Federation Council Committee also stressed that, based on the Russian president’s decision to declare 2018–2027 the Decade of Childhood, “it would be necessary to do much to cultivate the rising generation of research staff.” In this sense, the conferring of awards on 3 small winners of the UCMAS mental arithmetic championship, which had taken place on the opening day of the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum, was highly symbolic.

Dr. Nelly Didenko, EuroScience Local Section in Russia, St. Petersburg