News Excerpt
International Women’s Day is celebrated across the globe on March 8 every year to recognize the achievements of women across divides- national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.This year’s theme is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.

Pre-Connect
•    The first International Women’s Day occurred on March 19 in 1911. The inaugural event, which included rallies and organized meetings, was a big success in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
•    The March 19 date was chosen because it commemorated the day that the Prussian king promised to introduce votes for women in 1848.
•    The promise gave hope for equality but it was a promise that he failed to keep. The International Women’s Day date was moved to March 8 in 1913.
•    The majority of the world's 1.3 billion absolute poor are women. On average, women receive between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men earn for the same work.
•    Women also continue to be victims of violence, with rape and domestic violence listed as significant causes of disability and death among women worldwide.
Role of women in developing a knowledge economy in India
A rapidly growing India requires a highly skilled technical workforce that is crucial for developing a knowledge economy. Unfortunately, half the scientific potential of India—women in science—is squandered. Women make up only 14% of the 280,000 scientists, engineers, and technologists in research and development institutions across the country.

What are the problems faced by women in this sector?
    The women scientists earn less, have less prestige within department, have less lab space, are offered inadequate jobs on graduating with science degrees and have more teaching responsibilities.
    Women tend to lack access to informal networks that provide opportunities to work in high-profile projects, which include attending conferences abroad or on-the-job opportunities which leads in lack or experience.
    When women feel selected or assessed on the basis of group membership rather than their work record and abilities, they experience gender discrimination.
    An organization’s culture has a significant impact on those who work within it. Unfortunately, not many organizations have revised their work policies or employee expectations to enable women to strike a balance between their work and family responsibilities.
    Women often take on part-time roles that pay less, or are seen as less important, in order to accommodate work and family. Family commitments can influence the way co-workers, including managers, perceive them.

What need to be done?
Science needs the best scientists, and a knowledge. Economy needs a gender-balanced workforce. This can only be attained by
o    We must realize the full potential of women. Apart from being wasteful and unjust, the under-representation of women in science threatens the goal of achieving excellence in the field.
o    We must set an ambitious target of reaching out to 1 million young girls each year, and encourage them to take up science and make a difference.
o    A national convention of women in science must be held annually, with a specific focus on discussing and building general awareness around the major challenges that women face.
We must mobilize all our resources, if India aims to be a $5 trillion economy. The gender imbalance in science and technology is a looming challenge and threatens to weaken our country’s competitive economic position. By addressing these concerns, we can empower and motivate more women to join scientific fields, unlock India’s full potential, and develop the country to become a knowledge economy.

Nari Shakti Puraskar
 is an initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to acknowledge the exceptional contribution made by individuals and institutions, to celebrate women as game changers and catalyst of positive change in the society. These outstanding women have contributed towards safeguarding women’s rightsalong with pushing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. These awards are an effort to recognize women as equal partners in the advancement of society.

A study highlighted that only 3% of women surveyed, regarded family responsibilities as their most serious career obstacle, while 50% cited gender bias. Only 7% of female employees surveyed reported leaving the organization for family reasons, whereas 73% reported leaving because they saw limited opportunities. The quit rates for women were significantly lower in organizations that provided better training and promotion opportunities.

On international women day, the Indo-U.S. Fellowship for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (WISTEMM) program of Department of Science and Technology(DST) in association with Indo-U.S. Science & Technology Forum (IUSSTF) have provided international exposure to several women scientists. Around 20 women scientistshave visited 20 leading institutions across the United States of America for furthering their research work and to get trained in the state of the art technologies related to their research.
WISTEMM aims to provide opportunities to Indian Women Scientists, Engineers & Technologists to undertake international collaborative research in premier institutions in U.S.A, to enhance their research capacities and capabilities.

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