According to Marjan Hammersma, Dutch Vice-Minister of Education, Culture and Science, women and girls are still under-represented in science, technology and engineering education and careers, even though they are frontrunners of the climate movements and advocacy for a green and digital future.
“We need to challenge the stereotypes that discourage girls from entering and staying in these fields. This under-representation is a missed opportunity for all of us,” she said, pointing out that the Netherlands had recently launched a National Action Plan for green and digital jobs, the result of collaboration between three ministries. “Apart from aiming to attract more girls and women into these jobs by investing in digital skills, the plan also focuses on a culture change in these sectors –including working hours, working conditions, and ensuring safe and inclusive working environments.
Ms Hammersma was speaking in New York at an event co-organised by the PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, the Netherlands and Estonia, on the sidelines of the 67th session of the UN Committee on Status of Women (6-17 March 2023) - CSW67. The event, entitled “Towards a green and digital future: challenges and opportunities for women and girls in public life and the workplace”, was moderated by Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis, PACE Secretary General.
Hanna Vseviov, Estonian Deputy Minister of Social Affairs, gave several examples of good practices, initiatives and awareness-raising campaigns in her country aimed at increasing the number of girls and women in digital and new technology studies and jobs.
“International instruments, such as the Istanbul Convention, are important standards that can promote the inclusion of women and girls in the green and digital future," said Zita Gurmai (Hungary, SOC), former PACE General Rapporteur on violence against women.
Mariia Mezentseva (Ukraine, EPP/CD), Chairperson of the PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, spoke of mentoring as an effective tool to encourage girls to empower themselves in public and professional life. “For the younger generation, it is important to have role models and support,” she said.
Petra Stienen (Netherlands, ALDE) called for the commitment of everyone to build an inclusive green and digital future, stressing the responsibility of men to achieve more equality.
Mariëlle Feenstra, NGO representative in the Dutch delegation to CSW67, emphasised the importance of establishing collaboration between NGOs and governments but also between ministries, and of breaking the silos in policies by listening to civil society.
The panelists concluded by underlining that gender-sensitive education from an early age was essential.