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International Day of Women and Girls in Science

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Anna O'Connor with Minister McEntee (Copyright: Maxwell Photography)

 

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

 

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established an International Day to recognise the important role of women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This day is celebrated annually on February 11th and is an opportunity to promote girls’ participation in science around the world.

 

Increased female participation in STEM subjects will be a vital part of addressing the challenges highlighted by the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 Global Goals apply equally to all countries, promoting development while protecting the planet. Contributions and innovations by young people and scientists will be key to ensuring that the world meets the targets set in Agenda 2030. Participation by women and girls is particularly important.

 

One way in which Ireland encourages female participation in science is through our sponsorship of the Science for Development Award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, which takes place in Dublin each year. 2019 is the 14th year that Irish Aid has provided €5,000 towards the award which aims to encourage students to develop ideas, using appropriate scientific technology, that may prove useful at local community level in the Global South. The aim is to give students a greater insight into the wider world, and their role as global citizens.

 

This year, lots of female scientists produced excellent projects that showed how science and technology can be utilised to improve the lives of people in developing countries and to support sustainable development.

 

Joanne, Marcelina and Shane with Minister McEntee (Copyright: Maxwells)

 

One such project was by Joanne, Marcelina and Shane from Desmond College in Limerick who were very interested in the fall armyworm which was first detected in Africa in 2016. The caterpillars of the fall armyworm moth are so called because they 'march' in huge numbers between feeding sites. They are very destructive and can strip bare whole fields of maize overnight. This results in great hardship for poor families as it destroys not only their food but their source of income. The students devised a simple solution to trap the adult moths using discarded plastic bottles, small lights and locally sourced sugar cane.

 

Anna O'Connor

 

Another excellent project was by Anna from St Angela's College, Cork who won the Trinity College Global Challenges Award with her project which focused on an easily maintained and affordable solar-powered school in a box to be used in areas with limited electricity and few teachers, such as refugee camps.

 

Today is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.

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