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11 FEBRUARY: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SCIENCE!

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The UN dedicated 11 February to celebrate women in science and elevate the need for ‘full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls’ as a prerequisite for Sustainable Development. We agree. Which is why we asked two STEM women the Foundation is fortunate to collaborate with to tell us what – or who – inspired them as girls. Here (in alphabetical order) in their own words, are their stories …

Bringing everyone to the table – not just women – to be able to effectively eliminate gender inequality in STEM
“For me personally, choosing a career in STEM research wasn’t primarily driven by support from the great women in my life. It was actually the men: My father, uncle and undergraduate advisor!

They strongly rejected the idea that a gender mold should dictate my future and the impact I can make in the world. They believed that good education is the best investment I can make.

I am inspired by their instinctive dedication to gender equality. Today, I celebrate them and all the other men and women who believe gender inequality in STEM is not a women’s issue, it’s everyone’s issue” 
– Dr Sara Moukarzel, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Education Studies and the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence, University of California San Diego

Inspiring the girls and women of Pakistan
“I was inspired by my mother’s passion for education. Her life revolved around reading and ensuring her children had an excellent education. She was a very enthusiastic learner and a keen observer, but unfortunately could not continue education as an adolescent.

I wanted to pursue her dream. Like her, my genes lured me to books, writing and a desire to achieve a tangible outcome that would also impact girls and women around me. Hence, I pursued healthcare. The urge to empower oneself and to utilise this life for more than just worldly gains was natural, engraved in my personality – and I was fortunate to have support from my family.

I strived to achieve clinical excellence, combining it with a passion for teaching. Once I satisfied my thirst for knowledge and skills to save lives as a neonatologist, I decided to increase my canvas. I moved out of hospital settings and into the community. Here, I could experience and understand the manifold problems of women and newborns and learn how I could influence and improve the health of girls and women at large.

It has been a journey of discovery and contentment ever since!” 
Dr Shabina Ariff, Associate Professor, Director Neonatal Fellowship Program, Director Fetomaternal Medicine, Department of Pediatrics & Child Health, Aga Khan University

Interested in hearing from other women in STEM?
UNESCO is holding a live Zoom event in English and French on 11 February 2021, 1-3pm CET: “Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19”.
Registration
Programme