Foundation urges FG to boost girl-child access to science studies

Helpline Foundation for the Needy, an Abuja-based NGO, on Friday urged the Federal Government to provide the facilities and the enabling environment that would boost the access of the girl-child and women to science studies.

President and Founder of the foundation, Dr Jumai Ahmadu, made the call at an interactive session for women and female students.

The event was organised by the NGO, in partnership with Make a Difference for the Needy Foundation and Association of Wives of Traditional Rulers in the FCT.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the interactive session was organised by the foundation as part of the activities to the 7th UN International Day for Girls and Women in Science.

The theme of the day is “Equal Access and Participation in Science for Girls in Accelerating Progress Towards National Development.”

Mrs Ahmadu also called on the government at all levels to support the educational pursuit of girl-child by providing all the necessary tools to increase their participation in various fields of science.

The president, who urged parents to encourage their girls to study science-related subjects, called on teachers to devote time to mentor and teach the girl-child and concentrate more on them.

Similarly, Ahmadu stressed the need for donor agencies to maintain gender equality and inclusiveness in offering grants and scholarships, so that girls and women could maximise their potential in the sciences.

Represented by Godwin Onoja, Coordinator, Special Programme of the foundation, the founder observed that a significant gender gap had persisted throughout the years at all levels of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines all over the world.

She added that even though women had made tremendous progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they were still under-represented in the STEM fields.

“A brief rundown of the statistical position of women in research fields of science indicated that women are typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues.

“While they represent 33.3 per cent of all researchers, only 12 per cent of members of natural science academies are women. In the cutting edge fields such as Artificial Intelligence, only one in five professionals (22 per cent) is a woman.

“Despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women still account for only 28 per cent of engineering graduates and 40 per cent of graduates in computer science and informatics.

“Female researchers tend to have shorter, less well-paid careers,” she said.

Ahmadu explained that girls and women, irrespective of how oppressed their situations were, have been participating and contributing to national development from the scientific angle since the beginning of the awareness campaigns.

“However, we cannot reduce this awareness because we are seeing some little results and for as long as we live we must continue to encourage our feminine gender to study science.

“We must make them know that becoming a scientist does not correlate with gender issues but a ready mind.

“On our part as a woman-led organisation, we have instituted a programme we call Voice of the Girls Parliament, which has been running for years now to nurture the girl-child on all aspects of life, including encouraging them to participate in academics and making choices in science-related careers.

“This programme has generated a lot of success in the lives of our girls and we hope to do more with your support”, she said.

NAN reports that the event, which featured talks on STEM product development and design, was graced by a handful of women and hundreds of female students drawn from some public and private schools across the FCT. (NAN)

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