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Applying a Gender Lens to Science, Technology and Innovation
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Applying a Gender Lens to
Science, Technology and Innovation
U N C T A D C U r r e N T S T U D i e S o N S C i e N C e , T e C h N o l o g y A N D i N N o v A T i o N . N º 5
Un i t ed nat ions ConferenCe on trade and development
New York and Geneva, 2011
ii APPLYING A GENDER LENS TO SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
Copyright © United Nations, 2011
All rights reserved. Printed in Switzerland.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) serves as the lead entity within the United
Nations Secretariat for matters related to science and technology as part of its work on the integrated treatment
of trade and development, investment and finance. The current work programme of UNCTAD is based on the
mandates set at UNCTAD XII, held in 2008, in Accra, Ghana, as well as on the decisions by the United Nations
Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), which is served by the UNCTAD secretariat.
UNCTAD’s work programme is built on its three pillars of research analysis, consensus-building and technical
cooperation, and is carried out through intergovernmental deliberations, research and analysis, technical
assistance activities, seminars, workshops and conferences.
This series of publications seeks to contribute to exploring current issues in science, technology and innovation,
with particular emphasis on their impact on developing countries.
The term “country” as used in this study also refers, as appropriate, to territories or areas; the designations
employed and the presentation of the material do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part
of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its
authorities, or concerning the delineation of its frontiers or boundaries. In addition, the designations of country
groups are intended solely for statistical or analytical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgement
about the stage of development reached by a particular country or area in the development process. Mention of
any firm, organization or policies does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.
The material contained in this publication may be freely quoted with appropriate acknowledgement.
Science, technology and innovation (STI) are beginning to gain greater attention within national and international
policy agendas following decades of neglect. This renewed interest has significant potential to help meet
development goals and improve the lives of women and men. Promoting gender equality and ensuring that
both men and women benefit from STI policies is fundamental to reducing poverty and ensuring equitable
Although there is growing recognition that STI can contribute significantly to promoting development, STI policies
generally lack a gender perspective, and therefore do not adequately and equitably address all development
concerns. This report argues that a “gender lens”, which reflects the aims, concerns, situations and abilities
of both women and men, should be applied in all aspects of STI policy-making. Applying a gender lens in STI
policies includes promoting and leveraging science and technology (S&T) to support women’s development
in key sectors, such as agriculture, water, energy and transport, where they play a particularly important role.
Policies also need to promote gender equality in S&T-related education, careers and leadership as well as
encourage and support the role of women in innovation.
Aimed at policymakers, this report draws attention to the importance of policy coherence across programmes
and regulations, the relevance of applying evidence-based and participatory approaches, and the need to carry
out regular gender-disaggregated monitoring and evaluation. It also recommends that all STI policies be subject
to a gender assessment, and advocates the implementation of concrete policy actions, including making clear
financial and resource commitments through gender-responsive budgeting.
This report provides a rich and diverse collection of case studies on good practices and lessons from around the
world as a basis for using a gender lens in the analysis, design and implementation of STI policy. It aims to make
a valuable and lasting contribution to improving the effectiveness of STI policy for development by recognizing
women’s input and unique needs, and advocating the importance of considering gender in STI policies with the
aim of improving both social equity and economic development.
Supachai Panitchpakdi Sherry Ayittey
Secretary-General of UNCTAD Minister for Environment, Science and
iv APPLYING A GENDER LENS TO SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
from the Gender Advisory Board of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), at
the request of the Economic and Social Council (E/2010/3) and as a contribution to the 55th session of the
Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
The Report was prepared by a team comprising Dong Wu (team leader), Jenny Lieu, Jason Munyan, and Oliver
Johnson, under the supervision of Mongi Hamdi and the direction of Anne Miroux. Significant inputs were
received from Sophia Huyer (CSTD Gender Advisory Board).
Useful comments were received from Shirley Malcom, Geoffrey Oldham and Sudha Nair (CSTD Gender Advisory
Board) and the following UNCTAD staff members: Milasoa Cherel-Robson, Torbjorn Fredriksson, Marisa
Henderson, Franziska Klopfer, Menelea Masin, Thao Nguyen and Simonetta Zarrilli.
UNCTAD and the CSTD Gender Advisory Board also wish to acknowledge comments and suggestions
received during various stages of the Report’s preparation from Xiaolan Fu (University of Oxford), Susan Schorr
(International Telecommunication Union), Elyse Ruest-Archambault (consultant on Gender and Development)
and Linda Basch (National Council for Research on Women).
Rafe Dent and Jason Munyan formatted the manuscript and Praveen Bhalla edited the report.
Applying a Gender Lens to Science, Technology and Innovation was prepared by UNCTAD, with inputs
AKST agricultural knowledge, science and technology
APGEST Asia-Pacific Gender Equity in Science and Technology
CSTD Commission on Science and Technology for Development
ECOSOC Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
GAB Gender Advisory Board
GWG Gender Working Group
ICT information and communication technology
ITU International Telecommunication Union
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
NACI National Advisory Council on Innovation (South Africa)
NGO non-governmental organization
R&D research and development
PRA participatory rural appraisal
S&T science and technology
SME small and medium-sized enterprise
STEM science, technology, engineering and mathematics
STI science, technology and innovation
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNECA United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Executive summary ................................................................................................................................. ix
1. iNTrOducTiON.................................................................................................................................... 1
1.1 Gender, science, technology, innovation and sustainability .............................................................. 1
1.2 The international policy context.......................................................................................................... 1
1.3 The interdependence of STI, human development, environmental sustainability
and gender equality .......................................................................................................................... 2
2. ENTry pOiNTs fOr applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sTi .................................................. 4
2.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 4
2.2 Science for women: supporting women’s development and livelihood activities through STI ......... 4
2.3 Women in science: gender equality in science, technology and engineering ................................ 13
2.4 Women in innovation systems ......................................................................................................... 16
3. sTi pOlicy usiNg a gENdEr lENs.........................................................................................17
3.1 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 17
3.2 Policy coherence: harmonization and integration of STI policies .................................................... 19
3.3 Evidence-based policy: learning from experience........................................................................... 20
3.4 Evaluation and monitoring of gender trends in STI ......................................................................... 21
3.5 Gender impact assesment of STI policies ....................................................................................... 22
3.6 Implementing STI policy using a gender lens: examples of national and regional approaches..... 22
3.7 Scaling up successful projects and programmes........................................................................... 27
4. apprOachEs fOr applyiNg ThE gENdEr lENs iN sTi ..............................................27
4.1 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 27
4.2 Capacity development for technology choice: STI for women........................................................ 29
4.3 Capacity development for women’s participation in STI education and careers: women in STI .... 33
4.4 Capacity development for promoting women in innovation systems.............................................. 36
4.5 Approaches for action: interconnections and empowerment through a gender lens..................... 38
4.6 Lessons learnt: how not to apply the gender lens to STI................................................................. 40
5. cONclusiONs aNd rEcOmmENdaTiONs ..........................................................................41
5.1 Recommendations at the national level........................................................................................... 42
5.2 Recommendations at the international level.................................................................................... 43
aNNEX: Agreed conclusions on access and participation of women and girls in education,
training and science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal
access to full employment and decent work ................................................................................. 54
viii APPLYING A GENDER LENS TO SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
Box 1 GWG-CSTD: Transformative Action Areas............................................................................ 2
Box 2 Women in agriculture and natural resource management in Kenya .................................... 6
Box 3 Technology for women in agriculture .................................................................................... 6
Box 4 International gender and energy initiatives ......................................................................... 11
Box 5 Gender patterns in informal employment ........................................................................... 12
Box 6 Gender trends at primary and secondary levels................................................................. 13
Box 7 Gender related barriers to science education .................................................................... 14
Box 8 Transformative Action Area 8 .............................................................................................. 17
Box 9 UNESCO World Conference on Science: excerpt from the
Framework for Action 1999 ............................................................................................... .18
Box 10 Incorporating gender equality in STI policy......................................................................... 19
Box 11 Promoting evidence-based policy-making for gender equity ............................................. 20
Box 12 Resources on gender indicators......................................................................................... 20
Box 13 Gender audit of energy policy in Botswana........................................................................ 21
Box 14 South Africa’s Set4Women .................................................................................................. 22
Box 15 National policy framework for gender equality in South Africa ........................................... 23
Box 16 Recommendations of the 14th Women Leaders’ Network meeting ................................... 26
Box 17 Agricultural knowledge, science and technology (AKST) ................................................... 28
Box 18 Promoting farmer innovation in Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania
and Uganda .................................................................................................................... 30
Box 19 Importance of approaches and methods ........................................................................... 30
Box 20 Participatory experiment for improving soil fertility management ....................................... 32
Box 21 Collaborative efforts to promote online learning in developing countries .......................... 35
Box 22 Ingredients for economic empowerment and development for both
women and men: ........................................................................................................... 36
Box 23 Promoting biotechnology-based entrepreneurship in India ............................................... 36
Figure 1: Five key points with gender implications in agricultural research and extension................. 7
Figure 2: Incidence of acute respiratory infection in central Kenya, by gender and age group.......... 9
Science, technology and innovation (STI) can play
a crucial role in meeting internationally agreed
development goals. However, they cannot effectively
facilitate equitable and sustainable development
unless the aims, concerns, situations and abilities
of women as well as men are considered when
formulating STI policies. In other words, a “gender
lens” needs to be applied to STI policy-making.
This report emphasizes the necessity of integrating
a gender perspective into STI policies to effectively
address socio-economic development challenges.
Three areas are identified as entry points for applying
a gender lens:
1. Science for women: developing science and
technology which support women’s development
and livelihood activities.
2. Women in science: promoting gender equality in
science, technology and engineering education,
careers and leadership.
3. Encouraging and supporting the role of women
in innovation systems at national and grassroots
Science for women. The report focuses on a
number of sectors where women play a central role
(e.g. agriculture, water, energy and transport), and
illustrates how STI could contribute to women’s
livelihoods and development activities. It points out
that women tend to be bypassed in STI policies and
decisions, which often do not reflect their specific
needs and concerns. Because of their key role in an
economy and society, women are powerful agents of
change. It is therefore critical that their interests and
concerns be reflected in efforts at harnessing STI for
development by applying a gender lens. For instance,
women in agriculture play a prominent role in food
production and processing activities in developing
countries, but they have limited access to resources
that could increase the quality and quantity of their
output. Providing extension services relevant to their
needs, and assuring women’s greater access to
land, education and financing, could help increase
their productivity. Women use water for production,
consumption and domestic purposes, and assume
the largest burden for water collection in developing
countries. Yet they are often excluded from decision-
making in water management. Women’s multiple
uses of water and their important roles, for example
as livelihood managers and farmers, need to be
given due recognition by including them in decision-
making in various initiatives such as drip irrigation
and multiple-use water management schemes. As
the primary users of household energy in rural areas,
women’s energy needs are often overshadowed by
commercial, large-scale energy technologies. Efforts
are needed to increase their access to small-scale
energy technologies, such as small-scale renewable
energy systems for productive and domestic activities.
Transport vehicles and systems have not fully
considered women as users in developing countries,
including their activities of collecting and transporting
water and fuelwood. Improvements in transport are
required with a view to enhancing their productivity
and improving their access to markets, health care
and other essential facilities.
The participation of women in science can increase
their contribution to society, because, among other
things, they could influence the agenda for science
and technology (S&T) research and development
(R&D). However, at present a gender imbalance is
observed in S&T education, which favours boys/men
in three out of four countries worldwide that report
on intake ratios. This is often due to barriers such as
inappropriate school environments for girls, safety
concerns, teaching methods that favour boys, and
varying levels of access to technical and vocational
education. Some of these problems can be addressed
by promoting gender-relevant teaching methods
and materials, and providing funds to promote girls
and women in S&T education. Additionally, there is
a decreasing representation of women in STI from
secondary school to university, laboratories, and
then management, known as the “leaky pipeline”,
due to gender bias in S&T subjects, domestic and
career responsibilities and inflexible working hours.
To increase the participation of women in science, it
would be necessary to promote women role models
in STI, allow flexible working conditions, and support
women’s recruitment, retention, advancement and
leadership in this area.
In order to increase the role of women in innovation,
it is necessary to ensure greater access of women
to education, capital and markets to improve
their livelihoods. Women need to be supported
in entrepreneurial development, not only in micro
x applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
and small sized enterprises, but also in large sized
enterprises, as a means to promoting their involvement
in innovation. This includes providing advice and
training, better access to markets and financing,
and technology support in production and quality
processes. In addition, it means ensuring women’s
representation at senior management levels, and that
they acquire sufficient knowledge of business and
intellectual property rights management.
This report provides examples of good practices
from around the world with regard to gender-sensitive
STI policy-making, highlighting the importance
of coherence across regulations, policies and
programmes, evidence-based and participatory
approaches, and regular gender-sensitive monitoring
and evaluation. The report also emphasizes the
need for programmes and support structures to
implement gender equality in STI policies, such as
credit and financing, scaling-up initiatives and expert
support. It further underscores the importance of
capacity development, institution-building and multi-
stakeholder partnerships in policy implementation.
Applying a gender lens to STI policy is not only
important for promoting gender equality; it also makes
economic sense, given the integral and critical role
played by women in development. Such an approach
requires the integration of a gender perspective
throughout the policy-making process, from analyses
and design to implementation and monitoring.
The following are some of the key recommendations
of this report.
At the national level,
• Incorporate the gender dimension in national STI
policies, and link those policies to policies on
food and agriculture, water, energy, infrastructure
• Conduct impact assessments on all policies
related to STI for development to ensure that they
benefit both men and women equally;
• Promote women’s participation in decision-
making at all levels, including through temporary
special measures, and support policies and
mechanisms that create an enabling environment
for women’s organizations and networks;
• Provide support for and scaling up of successful
models and approaches through appropriate
financial and policy measures, focusing on multi-
stakeholder partnerships, and encourage private
sector and livelihood development to ensure the
sustainability of initiatives;
• Ensure women’s equal access to resources,
education, extension and financial services, land
and markets as part of overall support for their
STI- and gender-related activities;
• Increase the capacity of women and girls at the
local level through appropriate information and
education (formal and informal), training and
technical support systems;
At the international level,
• Identify and disseminate expertise/case studies
tailored for policy- and decision-makers;
• Work with national governments to encourage
them to mainstream gender in their STI policies,
for instance by paying particular attention to this
issue in aid programmes;
• Promote the sharing of good practice examples
in mainstreaming a gender perspective in STI
policies and programming, in order to scale up
and replicate successes;
• Encourage international and national research
institutions and agencies, universities, non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), government
agencies and the private sector to develop
partnerships and collaborate in integrating
gender perspectives and the inputs of women
producers, scientists and innovators into STI for
• Support staff training in gender analysis in order to
produce gender-sensitive policies, programming
and impact evaluation, including development
of skills in collecting gender-disaggregated
information and analysis of data sets, and
monitoring of policies and programmes.
1.1 Gender, science, technology, innovation and
Numerous global challenges are affecting the health
of the planet as well as the health of people living on
it, and they are inhibiting the efforts of countries and
the international community to improve human well-
being and environmental viability. Globally, national
governments in developed and developing countries
alike are increasingly recognizing the importance
of S&T for addressing human and environmental
challenges. There is need for a clearer understanding
of alternative development paths and associated
strategies that can successfully promote both human
well-being and environmental sustainability in the
face of these global challenges.
There is also need for recognition of the importance
of applying a “gender lens” to STI for development.
Indeed, STI policies and programmes will not be
effective, equitable and sustainable unless the gender
lens is applied so as to reflect the aims, concerns,
situation and abilities of both women and men.
An understanding of the contributions women
can make to STI policies and programmes
and the varying impacts of those policies and
programmes on women and men will influence their
success or failure (Gender Working Group, 1995).
Women’s activities in food production, community
management, natural-resource and biodiversity
management, education of children and family care
place them at the centre of development. They are
the collectors of fuel and water for their families,
and users of energy to prepare food and care for
the sick. In developing countries, they engage
substantially in agricultural production, both paid
and unpaid. This includes subsistence farming and
vegetable production, food processing, marketing
and provision of agricultural labour (FAO, 2011a;
IFAD, 2011). Women bear much of the burden of the
HIV/AIDS epidemic, caring for sick family members
while also substituting for their labour. Although
women and girls make up approximately 50 per
cent of the global population, they have access to
much less than half of the resources in terms of
technology, financing, land, training and education,
and information. Thus, recognizing and supporting
the activities and needs of women is essential for
This report argues that a gender lens in STI policies
is essential for achieving human development and
environmental sustainability in the context of current
1.2 The international policy context
The role of STI in promoting sustainable development
is increasingly recognized. Evidence from the past few
decades suggests that countries that have promoted
STI are the ones that have made the most economic
progress in recent years. Numerous studies by the
international community underscore the contributions
that STI-based strategies make to agriculture, the
development of affordable and sustainable energy
and other aspects of sustainable development.1
It has also been observed that STI is receiving
renewed attention by national governments following
a long period of neglect in some countries and
regions. Some national governments are adjusting
their STI policies and national plans so that STI can
play a more important role in social and economic
development.2 However, a critical aspect is missing
from many national STI policy-making efforts, namely
an understanding of the centrality of gender equality
and women’s empowerment, and its effects on
development. Without this understanding, STI policies
are unlikely to contribute meaningfully to sustainable
Over 15 years ago, the Gender Working Group
(GWG) of the United Nations Commission on Science
and Technology for Development (CSTD) found
that gender was the “missing link” in national S&T
programmes (GWG, 1995).3 The Working Group
examined the different impacts of S&T on the lives of
men and women in developing countries, focusing
on a number of sectors, including environment,
health, energy, agriculture, education, information,
employment, small and medium sized enterprises
(SMEs) and indigenous knowledge. It made two
important observations. First, serious obstacles
were preventing girls and women from accessing
science education and pursuing careers in S&T.
Second, technical change was benefiting men more
than women, largely because S&T policies and
programmes did not explicitly recognize the gender-
specific nature of development.
The Working Group recommended seven
“Transformative Action Areas” to support governments
in their efforts to develop appropriate policies and
programmes (Box 1).
2 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
The importance of the link between gender, science
and technology was also recognized by the Fourth
World Conference on Women (FWCW) in 1995, and
by the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(WSSD) in 2002. For instance, the outcome document
of the FWCW – the Beijing Platform for Action –
included references to the role of S&T in relation to:
• Improving women’s access to technologies,
information and technical assistance (as
entrepreneurs, farmers and fisheries producers);
• Measures for improving women’s access to
science education and technical training;
• Women’s access to non-traditional employment;
• Gender-sensitive health research;
• Recognition of women’s indigenous knowledge;
• Strengthening the position of women scientists
• The impact and potential of new technologies,
including information technologies; and
• Women’s role in natural-resource management
and the impact of environmental degradation on
The WSSD outcome document – the Johannesburg Plan
of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable
Development – further recognized the integral nature
of women’s contributions to rural development,
agriculture, nutrition and food security. It underlined
the importance of transferring and disseminating
technologies for safe water, sanitation and waste
management in rural and urban areas in developing
countries and in countries with economies in transition,
taking into account country-specific conditions and the
need for gender equality, “including specific technology
needs of women” (Chapter 6, para. 54).
1.3 The interdependence of STI, human
development, environmental sustainability and
1.3.1 The role of STI in meeting global challenges
According to the Human Development Report 2010 of
the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
the past 20 years have brought dramatic improvements
to many peoples’ lives. Data collected on progress
towards meeting the targets set in the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations
indicate that there has been progress in halving the
number of people who live on less than US$1 per day.
Solid advances have been made in school enrolment
overall and gender parity in enrolment in many parts of
the world. The child mortality rate and the incidence of
malaria are decreasing, while the number of HIV/AIDS
patients receiving anti-retroviral therapy has increased.
The decline in deforestation and the replanting and
expansion of existing forests are indicative of progress
in environmental sustainability, and there has been
improvement in the supply of clean water sources in
rural areas (United Nations, 2010).
Nevertheless, trends are uneven worldwide, and major
challenges remain. Several regions have actually
seen regression in health, for example due to a higher
incidence of HIV/AIDS and higher mortality rates
from violence and conflict. In many countries that
are expected to miss the MDG targets, the effects of
climate change are hindering progress, the number of
undernourished people is increasing, a large number of
people continue to live in absolute poverty, and progress
towards gender equality has been slow in major areas
– from education to political decision-making (United
Box 1: GWG-CSTD: Transformative Action Areas
The seven “Transformative Action Areas” identified and developed by the GWG were accompanied by concrete and
evidence-based recommendations for actions in each area.a Endorsed by ECOSOC in July 1995, they are intended to
support governments in implementing policies and programmes that will contribute to gender equality.
The following are the seven action areas:
1. Gender equity in science and technology education
2. Providing enabling measures for addressing gender inequalities in scientific and technological careers
3. Making science responsive to the needs of society: the gender dimension
4. Making the science and technology decision-making process more “gender aware”
5. Relating better with “local knowledge systems”
6. Addressing ethical issues in science and technology: the gender dimension
7. Improving the collection of gender-disaggregated data for policymakers
Source: GAB, undated.
a An eighth area was added in 2006 (see Chapter 2, Box 8).
Nations, 2010). Development and income gaps
remain large, not only between countries but also
within countries, both developed and developing.4
“Multidimensional poverty” remains a reality for about
1.75 billion people worldwide5: a household may
include members who are undernourished and have
less than five years of education, with no school-age
children enrolled in school. Or it may lack cooking
fuel, sanitation facilities, water, and/or electricity.
Other challenges for development include patterns of
consumption and sustainability, climate change and
energy use (UNDP, 2010).
Related to social and economic development are
environmental stresses caused by certain human
actions, which, if not mitigated, will also increase
stress on humans. Available options and choices will
be increasingly limited, including choices to promote
sustainability, which in turn will lead to added stress
on the environment. Main stressors include conflict
over resources, population pressure, increased toxicity
of water and soil, air pollution, intensive energy use
and extraction, and climate change. Effects of these
stressors on humans include changes in the resistance
of plants and insects to disease, varying availability of
food, fuel and water, inadequate nutrition, desertification
and shifts in disease vectors caused by climate change.
STI has much to contribute in tackling these complex
and interrelated challenges. For example, it can help
increase food security by providing solutions to the
challenges of poverty and hunger through improved
nutrition, increased crop yields, improved food
production and processing technologies, provision
of clean water and effective sanitation, improved
health and education, clean and renewable energy
sources and improved soil management (GWG,
1995; IFAD 2010). S&T systems can test the validity
of the traditional and indigenous knowledge of both
women and men, and complement and refine it.
STI can also improve monitoring and management
of ecosystems, and prediction and management of
the effects of climate change. In addition, it can work
towards finding remedies for neglected diseases and
other health issues (UNESCO, 2007; CSTD, 2004
and 2005; United Nations, 2005). Technology has
the potential to improve women’s situations through
improved energy sources that have less negative
impact on health, improved food production and
processing technologies, and improved water quality
and sanitation (GWG, 1995; IFAD 2010). Crucially,
women’s roles as food producers, educators of their
children, family caregivers and community managers
will need to be underpinned by STI resources in order
for countries to meet many of the MDG targets.
Effective STI-based interventions to address
interlinking global challenges are also interconnected,
and influence each other. The complexity of these
challenges and their interrelated nature will require
the sophisticated and collaborative application of
S&T research and implementation among a range of
sectors, actors and countries.
1.3.2 The gender lens: gender equality, capacity and
women’s role in development
Gender equality refers to “the equal rights,
responsibilities and opportunities of women and men”
(OSAGI, 2001), whereby women and men have “equal
conditions for realizing their full human rights and
for contributing to, and benefiting from, economic,
social, cultural and political development” (ILO, 2007).
This implies equal access to resources as well as
equal opportunities to benefit from those resources.
Empowerment and informed choice are essential for
gender equality and human development. As argued
by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and his colleague Jean
Drèze (2002), the well-being of women and children
depends crucially on the empowerment of women –
including access to employment, literacy and property
rights – independent of the economic level or literacy
rates in the overall population or community.6 It has
been recognized that gender equality and women’s
empowerment, a development goal in its own right
(MDG3), is also critical to the achievement of other
goals in the Millennium Declaration.
Today, women and children continue to
disproportionately bear the effects of poverty in
developing (and developed) countries. Therefore
the core issue in STI for development is to design,
implement, monitor and adjust STI using a gender
lens (i.e. ensuring that men and women benefit
equally). This approach would require STI policies
to consider, for example, how better roads could
encourage the education of girls, or how safe public
transport could improve family nutrition, or how ICT-
based strategies that provide weather forecasts to
farmers could reach women as well. It would also
help identify educational and technology strategies
and curricula that would encourage women and girls
to appreciate, seek out and use S&T information to
improve their lives (Malcom, 2003). Another pressing
issue is how S&T could be used to counteract the
4 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
malnutrition of women and girls, maternal mortality
and female foeticide.7 All these issues require a
better understanding of the varying impacts of STI
policies and strategies, while also taking into account
women’s opportunities, interests and concerns. This
involves recognition of the following:
• The varying levels of access by women and men
to resources and opportunities, including, inter
alia, to education, training, land, financing and
labour. This in turn affects the relative ability of
women and men to: (i) make choices about their
lives, rights and livelihoods, (ii) benefit from STI in
development policies and programmes; and (iii)
use S&T to innovate.
• The different gender-based roles and
responsibilities of women and men, taking
into account typical responsibilities of many
women globally – productive, reproductive and
• Women’s technology needs at the grassroots level.
• The contributions that women can make to the
design and development of STI at all levels.
Policies should be formulated that support women’s
empowerment and gender equality in relation to STI in
the following three interlinking areas:
(i) Science for women: ensuring that S&T supports
women’s development and livelihood activities in
ways that bring equal benefits to women and men.
(ii) Women in science: promoting women’s contributions
and leadership in S&T equally with those of men.
(iii) Encouraging and supporting the participation of
women in innovation systems, from the national
level to the grassroots level.
Chapter 2 addresses these areas, while Chapter
3 examines some of the conditions needed for
mainstreaming a gender perspective in STI policies
and programmes – referred to as the “gender lens”
approach. It also provides examples of innovatve
models at national and regional levels. Chapter 4
examines issues related to capacity- and institution-
building, and discusses the support structures
required for policy implementation. Chapter 5
concludes wth concrete recommendations.
2. Entry points for applying a gender
lens to STI
Applying a gender lens to STI policy is not only an
equality or rights issue; given the fundamental and
crucial role played by women in development, it is
also critical to ensuring the effectiveness of mobilizing
S&T for development.
Promoting women’s participation at all levels of S&T
education and in the private and public workforce
(women in science) and developing and implementing
S&T approaches which benefit women (science
for women), involve consulting and working with
women in the choice, development and application of
technologies in a variety of sectors. It is also necessary
to ensure that they have access to sufficient resources
and that they can take advantage of and benefit from
S&T innovations. In addition, their local knowledge
and innovative practices need to be recognized
and supported. Drawing on women’s knowledge,
innovations and interests, and involving women in design
and implementation, will increase women’s productivity
and add to the overall S&T knowledge base.
2.2 Science for women: supporting
women’s development and
livelihood activities through STI
STI can play several roles in supporting women’s
development and livelihood activities. It can validate,
protect and improve local knowledge, innovations and
skills in food production, and in energy, water, nutrition,
transport and natural resource management. There is
also a role for S&T in reducing women’s workload, for
example by providing improved energy sources that
will shorten or eliminate the long distances they often
have to walk to collect fuelwood. It can increase the
value of women’s productive activities by improving
quality and efficiency, thereby increasing income
and improving their health and quality of life. For
example, an integrated domestic biogas, latrine
and hygiene programme in sub-Saharan Africa
contributed to “improved health, increased availability
of potent organic fertilizers, time savings through the
reduced drudgery associated with fuel collection, and
environmental benefits” (van Nes and Nhete, 2007).
The main sectors addressed here which affect human
needs and are central to environmental sustainability
are: food production and agriculture (with related
implications for nutrition and child/maternal health),
water and sanitation, energy, and conservation of
biodiversity. The effects of climate change will continue
to increase stress on human needs and environmental
sustainability in all these sectors.
In each of these sectors, women’s and men’s
conditions and contributions vary across cultures
52. eNTry pOINTS fOr applyINg a geNder leNS TO STI
and regions. They have varying access to
resources, diverse development of capabilities and
opportunities, and different socially constructed
roles and responsibilities. For example, in Egypt
the gender division of labour in agriculture varies
by crop and by agricultural activity. Men tend to be
responsible for land preparation, planting, weeding,
irrigation and pest control, while women contribute
to seed preparation, fertilization, harvesting, and
quite significantly to storage and marketing. Men
tend to be responsible for the large livestock – water
buffalo, donkeys, cows and sheep, while women
generally do the milking, processing and marketing.
About 70 per cent of women’s time is spent on these
forms of livestock-related activities. Fishing and
marketing of fish are primarily men’s domain, while
women contribute about 52 per cent of the labour in
processing and net-making, and 42 per cent on net
maintenance and repair. Women are responsible for
all domestic tasks such as water and fuel collection,
in addition to food processing and preparation
The following sections examine the roles of women in
each of the above-mentioned sectors, and how STI
can increase their efficiency in these roles.9
2.2.1 Food security, agriculture and nutrition
Today, 925 million people are estimated to be
undernourished, which is almost 16 per cent of the
population of developing countries (FAO, 2010a).
Micronutrient deficiencies affect about two billion
people and lead to growth problems, blindness,
increased severity of infections and in worst cases,
death. Providing appropriate nutrition will continue
to be a challenge. It has been estimated that global
food production must double in order to feed a world
population that is expected to reach 9.2 billion in
2050. This will need to be done despite the shrinking
arable land per capita, steady declines in crop yields,
mounting stress on ecosystems and climate change
It is worth noting that women provide around 43 per
cent of the agriculture labour force in developing
countries. This ratio is even higher in some regions.
For instance, in sub-Saharan Africa, 62 per cent of the
region’s economically active women are engaged in
the agricultural sector (FAO, 2011a). Women play a
key role in agricultural production around the world. As
a result, addressing the particular challenges faced by
women, such as limited resources, is vital to achieving
increases in overall agricultural productivity (Meinzen-
Dick et al, 2010). In implementing food assistance,
nutrition or food security initiatives to meet these
challenges, women’s specific needs for technology
and livelihoods should be targeted as high priority.
In most of the developing world, women make major
contributions to crop production and food processing,
as well as to improving dietary and children’s health.
These contributions will increase as men continue to
migrate to urban centres in search of employment.
The important role of women in agriculture and natural
resources management is highlighted in an example
from Kenya (Box 2).
Despite their critical and increasing role in food
production, women have poor access to resources
(land, credit, technology, information, training and
education) for increasing their output, and little
support to move from subsistence farming to higher
value, market-oriented production. African women
farmers are estimated to produce 20 per cent more
than men from the same access to land and inputs,
yet “African women own only one per cent of the land
in Africa and receive only seven per cent of extension
services and one per cent of all agricultural credit”
(Action Aid, 2010). Attempts to formalize land tenure
may exclude women from claiming property they have
traditionally used or owned previously. A study of farm
credit schemes in Africa found that women’s share of
loans was just 10 per cent (FAO, 2010b; UIS, 2010;
Huyer et al., 2005).
Globally, women’s landholdings, on average, are
nearly three times smaller than those of men (IFAD,
2011). Their limited access to land in general affects
food production for family use and consequently
the nutrition levels of children. It has also been
demonstrated that women who work land which they
do not own have less incentive to use conservation
techniques to maintain it (FAO, 2010a). For instance,
studies in Ghana found that women farmers practiced
shorter fallow periods compared with men, due to
insecure access to land, resulting in lower yields,
income and household food (FAO, 2011b).
Women’s agricultural activities tend to be
underreported in developing countries, and are
generally categorized under household activities (e.g.
household gardens) rather than under agricultural
production. This is one of the reasons why it is
crops produced by men (i.e. cash crops) and men’s
agricultural activities that receive the most technology
6 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
support. In contrast, women’s agricultural activities
typically suffer from a lack of resources and support,
including credit, agricultural inputs (such as fertilizers,
improved seeds, clean water and insecticides),
mechanical power, other technologies to increase
production, training and access to labour (Meinzen-
Dick et al., 2010).
If the gender gap in agriculture were closed, there
would be significant increases in agricultural output.
Studies show, for example, that when women have
equal access to productive resources their farm output
can increase by 20–30 per cent. This could potentially
raise the overall agricultural output by 2.5–4 per cent
in developing countries and reduce global hunger by
12–17 per cent (FAO, 2011a).
Women’s small-scale technology needs for agriculture
are often overlooked, leaving them, for example, with
less efficient hand-held tools which require more
physical exertion. Most tools that are available tend
to be designed for men’s physique, and therefore
tend to be too heavy or too high for women to handle
comfortably (Carr and Hartl, 2010). Improved labour-
reducing technologies and tools designed for women
are therefore needed to increase production (Box 3).
Nutrition is a gender issue related to food security
and production, as women are overwhelmingly
Box 3: Technology for women in agriculture
Tools and equipment appropriate for women’s tasks, such as planting, weeding and grinding, do exist, but there are
many barriers to their use. Of all women’s tasks on the land, weeding with short-handled hoes is the most punishing
and time-consuming, causing fatigue and backache. Long-handled hoes are available that could reduce the strain of
squatting, but in many parts of Africa these are rejected for cultural reasons. Manufacturers of farm tools make different
weights of hoes, including very light ones that are better suited to women’s needs, but most women continue to use
heavier hoes because they are unaware of the full range of available tools.
Technologies for draught animals (those used for pulling heavy loads) are seen as men’s domain, and animal traction
training courses tend to be restricted to men. While lighter implements exist that are suitable for use with animals such
as donkeys (animals which are acceptable for women to work with), women tend to lack the cash to purchase such
Source: IFAD, 1998.
Box 2: Women in agriculture and natural resource management in Kenya
It is common knowledge that in rural Kenya women are the (invisible) managers of natural resources, including land,
water, forests and wildlife. Their indigenous knowledge and management of these resources are crucial to their survival
and that of their families. For instance,
• When crop yield is low due to soil exhaustion, it is women who modify farming practices, such as the provision
of local manure to replenish the soil. When soil cover is destroyed, causing soil erosion, it is usually women who
do the terracing or develop other strategies in response.
• Women are the main collectors and users of water in rural Kenya. They decide where to collect water, how to
draw, transport and store it, how many sources of water to exploit and for what purposes (i.e. drinking, kitchen
and other domestic uses). Therefore, practices that compromise water from streams, underground and rivers
directly affect the welfare of women.
• Women use forests to supplement fuel and food sources from their own land (as trees planted on farms and
other agro-forestry projects are owned by men) and to collect nuts and fibres, wild fruit, vegetables, tubers,
honey and wild bush meat. They also use forests for cultural and spiritual purposes and for the provision of
medicinal plants, which are the main source of health care in rural areas.
• The significant role of women as rural managers has brought them to the forefront of tropical forest conservation.
Women’s groups are now fighting against deforestation, especially where their user rights are threatened,
while also becoming active in afforestation programmes. Traditional farming is being modified to incorporate
agroforestry in an effort to bring resources (such as fuelwood) out of the forest to farms that are closer to homes
where they can be sustainably used. In fact many women’s groups run tree seedling nurseries for income
generation as well as for farms.
Conservation and wise use of rural land is mostly the domain of women. Their traditional activities, skills and knowledge
are crucial for understanding why lands deteriorate or remain viable, particularly as it is becoming increasingly important
to protect soils from erosion and degradation.
Source: Volunteers for Africa (VFA), 2009.
72. eNTry pOINTS fOr applyINg a geNder leNS TO STI
responsible for growing and processing food for
subsistence. Twice as many women suffer from
malnutrition as men, and girls are twice as likely to die
from malnutrition as boys (FAO, 2010c). This results
from socio-cultural practices as well as physiological
needs related to food availability (or lack thereof). For
• Education is a determining factor in levels of
nutrition and child health. Studies from Africa
show that children of mothers who have spent fi ve
years in primary education are 40 per cent more
likely to live beyond the age of fi ve years;
• In many societies women and girls experience
“food discrimination”, that is, they eat only after
male family members have eaten, which can lead
to their chronic undernutrition and ill-health; and
• Pregnant and lactating women are more
susceptible to nutritional defi ciencies.
As noted, gender inequality in agriculture results
from gender relations governing several important
aspects of farming: at the household level, in relation
to land and property rights, access to agricultural
inputs, extension services, fi nancial services and
business development services. Other factors include
differences in agro-processing and use of crops (see
previous section) (Christoplos, 2010).
Technology dissemination and extension systems tend
to focus mainly on formal channels through national
or international institutions. Research is disseminated
by means of publications, conferences and extension
services. Extension services tend to concentrate only
on a small number of technologies, which primarily
aim to promote the production of cash crops for
export or for achieving national self-suffi ciency in
grains. This leads to only small numbers of farmers
being reached, and women often being bypassed
altogether (Wakhungu, 2010: 4). This shortcoming
can be addressed by requiring extension approaches
and extension agents to take into account gender
roles in households, society and agriculture, and in
rural development more generally. This could involve,
for instance, providing legal advice in services and
facilitating discussions on gender roles in farmers’
organizations and cooperatives (Wakhungu, 2010;
Gender implications in the agricultural research and
extension cycle can be assessed in terms of fi ve
key areas: R&D, extension, adoption, evaluation and
priority setting, and using results from evaluations
to inform the cycle once again. The model used
by the International Food Policy Research Institute
(IFPRI) provides an example of how gender can be
incorporated into agricultural research and extension
(Figure 1) (Meinzen-Dick et al., 2010).
One important strategy is to encourage more women to
become involved in agricultural science and extension
services: women in science to support science for
women. The proportion of women in agricultural
research is only about 7–10 per cent in West African
countries, about 18 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa
Figure 1: Five key points with gender implications in agricultural research and extension
Source: Meinzen-Dick et al., 2010 (reprinted with the kind permission of the International Food Policy Research Institute:
8 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
and almost 30 per cent in some southern African
countries. This low level of participation may be due
to stereotyping and underestimating women’s abilities
in science and technology, fewer women having
connections with national and regional networks,
which ultimately result in lower publication rates
(see Campion and Shrum, 2004), and the cultural
perceptions of what constitutes appropriate activities
for women, which limit opportunities for them to enter
into and advance in S&T-related professions, including
agriculture (UNESCO, 2007; AAUW, 2010).
Greater attention to gender issues in farming could
increase production and productivity, speed up the
adoption of innovations, raise household incomes,
and lead to significant improvements in child health,
nutrition and educational levels (Farnworth, 2010).
Appropriate policies can play a role in ensuring
access to markets and credit financing (especially
for women), in providing improved extension services
and technical assistance, in upgrading and extending
basic infrastructure, and in supporting capacity-
building. All of these activities are important, for
instance for linking producers to markets, improving
women’s output and production, and transforming
women’s farming activities into business ventures.
Most of the world’s 1.2 billion poor people lack
access to safe and reliable water for productive and
domestic uses, and two thirds of them are women.
Moreover, growing competition for water from industry,
agriculture, and power generation is resulting in
reduced availability of water for domestic use, thereby
making it even more difficult for the poor to access
water. Additionally, natural disasters, desertification,
increasing stress on the land from a growing
population, and climate change are also affecting the
availability of water and the reliability of rainfall (IFAD,
2001 and 2007; Lambrou and Nelson, 2010).
Unsafe water and sanitation conditions are responsible
for 80 per cent of all sickness in the world. Water-
borne diseases kill 3.4 million people annually, mostly
children. Millions more fall ill with diarrhoea, malaria,
schistosomiasis, arsenic poisoning, trachoma and
hepatitis – diseases that are preventable with access
to clean water and health-care information (Khosla
and Pearl, 2003). Women and girls, who constitute the
majority of the population in water-scarce areas, are
more at risk of these diseases, and also are responsible
for caring for family members with these diseases.
In most cultures, women and men have different roles
and responsibilities in the use and management of
water. Women use water for production, consumption
and domestic purposes, including cooking, cleaning,
health and hygiene, and, if they have access to land,
also for growing food. The priorities of men with
regard to water use mainly revolve around agriculture
or livestock rearing. Women are often excluded from
decision-making processes in the management of
agricultural water and natural resources. This raises
a range of issues pertaining to gender patterns in the
use of and access to water, of which the main ones
are discussed below.
• Sanitation and hygiene tend to be women’s
responsibility, and they often play an active role
in the construction, maintenance and repair of
sanitation facilities. Women and girls also walk for
hours to fetch drinking water, which not only takes
time away from other tasks (such as girls’ school
attendance), but also exposes them to possible
violence and health hazards (IFAD, 2007).
• Women’s poor access to water is often linked to
their limited access to land (IFAD, 2001). In all
parts of the world, few women own land in their
own right, though they may obtain access to land
through their families or husbands. Thus they may
be disenfranchised by customs governing the
transfer of these rights upon death, disease, or
presence of sons in the family.
• There tends to be little attention paid to social
diversity, and little differentiation among groups of
water users, leading to an overall lack of information
disaggregated by gender or other social, ethnic or
capacity grouping (Both ENDS, 2006).
• Most water-related initiatives aimed at poor
and vulnerable farmers fail to take into account
women’s concerns relating to their multiple uses of
water. Water supply approaches in the past have
tended to focus on providing water for domestic
or irrigation purposes. However, communities
have a range of additional uses for water, such
as fishing, livestock rearing, small businesses,
kitchen gardening and domestic tasks. Many of
these diverse uses are often neglected in water
management initiatives. Local or customary
governance arrangements, national governments
and international development programmes tend
to perceive women as family labourers rather than
as livelihood managers, farmers and individuals
with decision-making abilities. For example,
women are interested in time-saving devices to
92. eNTry pOINTS fOr applyINg a geNder leNS TO STI
fetch water, which helps to strengthen livelihoods
and crop production. They will use rainfall run-
off or irrigation water for a range of purposes,
including, but not restricted to, crop irrigation
• Failure to address the multiple uses of water
has had negative effects on community and
household water use. In Bangladesh and
Pakistan, for instance, the use of tube wells and
other groundwater sources for irrigation has led
to lower levels of water in domestic wells, in some
cases causing them to run dry (Sultana, 2002;
• Projects that take into account the multiple
demands on water may ignore women’s concerns.
For example, a smallholder irrigation scheme in
Kenya provided watering places for cattle (men’s
responsibility), while communal areas for washing
clothes and dishes were neglected. Since
women were underrepresented in the water user
associations (WUAs), their needs and uses were
not taken into account (FAO, 2003; UNCTAD,
• There are also gender differences in the use of
irrigation systems due to varying domestic and
work responsibilities and less time flexibility of
women. This leads to differences in preferences in
the operations of irrigation systems and scheduling
(and location) of water deliveries. Additionally,
women tend to avoid night irrigation because of
the risk of violence, sexual harassment and other
hazards, as well as the difficulties of combining
work at night with child care (Zwarteveen, 2006).
• Drip-irrigation can have a range of benefits for
conservation, production, and related socio-
economic and gender effects. In Nepal, for
example, women participated more actively
in vegetable production when drip irrigation
technology was introduced. This increased the
availability of food for households. It also improved
women’s access to and control over resources,
and increased their status and decision-making
power, ultimately encouraging the empowerment
of women in the community (Upadhyay, Samad
and Giordano, 2005; and see Chapter 3 for a
detailed analysis of the project).
It is estimated that 1.4 billion people (over 20 per cent
of the global population) lack access to electricity, and
85 per cent of them live in rural areas (IEA, 2010). In
sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, only 22.6 per cent
of the population have access to electricity, while in
South Asia only 40 per cent of the population has
access (Thomas, Rajepakse and Gunasekara, 2007).
Household energy is another example where women’s
priorities and tasks have often been overlooked in
favour of larger scale technologies oriented towards
urban areas. Biomass is one of the major sources of
energy globally, with 2.7 billion people (approximately
40 per cent of the global population) relying on the
traditional use of biomass for cooking (IEA, 2010), yet
it has major adverse health and environmental impacts,
particularly on the poor. Biomass cooking stoves are
still mostly three-stone fires, traditional mud stoves,
or metal, cement and pottery or brick stoves without
operating chimneys or hoods. Pollution levels inside
households using these stoves are many times higher
than typical outdoor levels, even in highly polluted cities.
The World Health Organization estimates that more
than 1.45 million people die prematurely each year
Figure 2: Incidence of acute respiratory infection in central Kenya, by gender and age group
Source: World Bank, 2003.
Under 5 years
50 years and over
0 0.05 0.10 0.15
10 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
from household air pollution due to inefficient biomass
combustion. Many of these are young children, who
spend long hours each day breathing smoke pollution
from such stoves. The gender disparity among children
experiencing acute respiratory infections increases as
they grow older, since girls tend to be kept at home to
help with domestic chores while boys go to school or
work outdoors. Figure 2 on the previous page gives the
case of gender and age disparities with regards to the
incidence of acute respiratory infection in central Kenya.
Today, the number of premature deaths from household
air pollution is greater than the number of premature
deaths from malaria or tuberculosis (IEA, 2010).
In addition to these specific negative health impacts
on women and girls, the use of traditional biomass
has another significant gender impact: women and
girls spend considerable time each day collecting fuel
– time that could have been spent more usefully for
income-earning activities, training or education.
Increased access to modern, clean, affordable and
sustainable energy at the household level is therefore
not only a critical development issue, but also a
gender concern. However, it is only one aspect of
alleviating energy poverty. Other energy issues which
have been highlighted as development priorities, with
implications for women and girls, include:
• Clean and sustainable energy sources for the
provision of clean water, sanitation and health
care, which will also reduce the time spent by girls
and women in fetching water;
• Reliable and efficient lighting, as both a safety
and an education issue. It increases safety in
public areas and contributes to girls’ education
by allowing them to do schoolwork after their
domestic chores are finished. It also increases
safety in public areas.
Although women tend to be responsible for energy
provision in the household, they have fewer resources
to access or buy it, and often are not involved in
household decision-making with regard to energy
use. Their concerns and priorities are thus often
overlooked. For example, it has been found that men
and women see different benefits deriving from access
to electricity: for men, access to electricity means a
better quality of life as well as education for children,
while for women, it means a reduced workload, and
improved health (McDade and Clancy, 2003).
Training and supporting women in developing,
managing and deploying green and renewable energy
technologies, such as solar panels, can contribute to
climate change mitigation, while also providing them
with employment (Bathge, 2010). In Bangladesh, for
example, Grameen technology centres are training
women as solar technicians in an initiative to scale up
solar home systems (SHS) across the country. Once
certified, the women technicians will sign annual
contracts with SHS clients for ongoing maintenance,
and there are future plans to support them to become
energy entrepreneurs.10 In a similar initiative in India,
the Barefoot College trains rural women as solar
engineers to build, install and maintain solar panels
in villages that have no other energy systems (Lal,
2008). And in Eritrea, improved cooking stoves
have been developed, which use a wider variety of
waste biomass for fuel, such as twigs, leaves and
animal dung, thereby relieving pressure on fuelwood
resources. Since the stoves are raised off the floor,
they also address safety concerns related to injuries
and burns of children. Classes were held in local
communities to explain the use of the technology, and
women have been hired to train other women in the
stove-building technique (UNCTAD, 2010a).
Gender and energy goes beyond a simple
understanding of women, fuels and stoves. Women
are active agents of change in the use and application
of energy in their roles as technology purchasers,
users and innovators, as well as through their
economic activities, political participation and their
work in community organizations. Small-scale, off-
grid renewable energy technologies can contribute
to income-generating opportunities and to the overall
economic empowerment of women, most notably
in areas such as agriculture, fisheries and textile
processing. For example, the EmPower project in
India trains women in the maintenance of small
energy service units and associated technologies,
operation of briquette machines and tree planting
(UNCTAD, 2010b). In Rwanda, a group of women
garbage collectors succeeded in producing biogas
for sale by compressing garbage into briquettes. The
cooperative they formed now employs 110 members
to collect garbage from 3,000 households (Energia,
undated). These are a few examples of the ways in
which women are contributing to the shaping of
approaches to energy production and consumption
at the community level.
Gender advocates11 seek to influence national and
international political agendas/policy dialogues by
providing inputs to, for example, the World Summit
112. eNTry pOINTS fOr applyINg a geNder leNS TO STI
on Sustainable Development and the Commission
on Sustainable Development. Major international
networks such as ENERGIA and the Global Alliance
for Clean Cookstoves promote sustainable, gender-
appropriate energy initiatives through policy
advocacy, partnerships with national and community
energy groups, research and work with the private
sector (Box 4).
Many examples exist of women’s groups at local
and community levels that undertake advocacy
of sustainable and socially equitable energy
development. In Nigeria, for example, the Niger
Delta Women’s Organization for Justice was founded
in 1999 to protest against natural gas flaring by a
multinational oil company in the country, as well as the
company’s violent response to protests. Eventually,
in 2006 the Nigerian Government cancelled the gas
company’s licence and prohibited the flaring of natural
gas (Brownhill and Turner, 2006).
Gender and transport issues include: (a) trends in
transport use by gender; (b) women and men as
marketers of products; and (c) gender trends of
workers in the transport sector.
Gender differences in transport use are based on
division of labour by gender. In both developed and
developing countries men tend to work outside the
house all day at one task or job, leaving in the morning
and returning in the evening, whereas women tend to
take shorter and more frequent trips during the day in
the course of tasks associated with their triple roles
as income earners, home-makers, and community
managers. While making these trips, women are often
accompanied by children or elderly relatives (IFRTD,
Women and girls use transport, when it is available,
for transporting and collecting fuelwood and water,
transporting goods to the market, travelling to work,
purchasing agricultural inputs, produce and tools,
going to school and shopping for food, among
other tasks. In general, they have less access to
wheelbarrows, motorcycles and/or other intermediate
means of transport.12 In the United Republic of
Tanzania, for example, women and girls spend four
times as much time on transport related tasks as men,
such as carrying heavy loads on heads or backs over
long distances. As a result, they suffer from health
problems such as neuro-spinal conditions. Improving
their mobility by providing them with greater access
to transport would alleviate some of these problems
and also allow them more time for education, health,
social activities and income generation.
Gender-related customs and practices may inhibit
both the development and adoption of new transport
technologies. Many transport vehicles and systems
are designed to fit the physique and travel patterns of
men rather than those of women. This is illustrated by
the following examples:
• Transport planning decisions generally fail to
reflect the different work-life balance of women,
such as managing childcare while running a
home, keeping a full-time job and caring for aging
parents. Fare structures may also penalize those
who need to work on a flexible or part-time basis
• Security is also a major concern for women
users of public transport, as they are especially
vulnerable to violence or sexual abuse when
travelling at night. This can be a major reason
why women do not use such transport. Many
transit systems in North America, for example, are
implementing “night stop” features which allow
Box 4: International gender and energy initiatives
ENERGIA and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves are examples of two international organizations that are
addressing gender and energy issues.
Energia, founded in 1996, operates in Africa and Asia through regional and national gender and energy networks. Its
work is based on the principle that projects, programmes and policies that explicitly address gender and energy issues
will result in better outcomes in terms of the sustainability of energy services and the human development opportunities
provided to both women and men.
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a new public-private partnership that aims to save lives, improve livelihoods,
empower women and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household
cooking solutions. Its focus is on targeting the market barriers that currently restrict the production, deployment and use
of clean-burning cooking stoves in the developing world.
Source: http://www.energia.org; and http://cleancookstoves.org/.
12 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
women to request special stops on buses, and
where security zones – well-lit, monitored areas –
are available during night hours.
• Cultural constraints can prevent women from
accessing public transport. In some cities,
it is considered inappropriate for women to
share crowded buses that carry mainly men. To
overcome this problem, in India, for example,
women-only carriages have been designated on
commuter trains to protect them from harassment
and social stigma (Yardley, 2009). In many
countries it is not acceptable for women to travel
in the evening.
• Girls’ school attendance is also deterred by a lack
of dependable transport. If travel time to school is
decreased, it is more likely that girls will be able to fit
in their domestic tasks while attending school. Safety
of girls walking to school is also a factor in school
attendance: if roads are made suitable for bicycle
travel, at the very least, girls’ enrolment is likely to
increase. In Morocco, for instance, good, accessible
roads led to an increase in girls’ enrolment to 68 per
cent from 28 per cent (IFRTD, 2010).
• Poor transport facilities can also mean difficulty
of access to preventive, maternal and emergency
health care (IFRTD, 2010; ECE, 2009).
• Airbags were designed for the average male
physique, putting women and children, who tend
to be shorter, more at risk of injury when they
inflate. Different forms of airbags have varying
gender implications (Duma et al., 2006; Weiss,
Songer and Fabio, 2001; Schiebinger, 2010).
2.2.5 Women’s livelihoods and income-generating
With respect to employment, differences between men
and women remain pronounced. Women tend to have
less access to decent work and regular or full-time
employment. Moreover, gender-based differences in
wages, while narrowing, generally remain large and
in favour of men, both in developed and developing
countries. In a study conducted in 33 mainly developed
countries, it was found that women’s wages averaged
69 per cent of men’s during the period 1998–2002
and rose to 74 per cent in 2003–2006 (DESA, 2010).
Globally, women tend to be concentrated in micro
and small enterprises. Between 60 and 70 per cent
of informal workers in developing countries are
self-employed, including employers, own-account
workers and unpaid family workers who contribute
to family enterprises (ILO, 2002). In most developing
countries, the main source of work for women is
informal employment (Box 5), which consists of
own-account work or contributing to family activities
in the form of street vending, independent home-
based work, industrial outwork, contributing to non-
agricultural family businesses, or domestic work
Women’s employment patterns relate directly to
gender patterns of participation in innovation systems.
It is well recognized that employment in the knowledge
society requires a workforce that is technically skilled
and trained in the application, generation, assimilation
and use of knowledge. In general, women are less
represented in scientific, technical and vocational
education, and in employment requiring technical and
knowledge skills. Moreover, they have less access to
the ongoing training and education required to update
skills. In addition, the percentage of women at higher
managerial and decision-making levels in the private
technology and industrial sector is extremely low –
generally less than 20 per cent (Huyer and Hafkin,
2007; UIS 2010). Supporting women’s informal and
formal small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
provides an important entry point into innovation
systems for women in most developing countries.
One of the main problems relate to access to markets
and financing which is more difficult for women farmers
and food producers than for men in much of the world.
Women farmers need considerable support, including
technical assistance, access to reliable basic
infrastructure and capacity-building. Other priorities
include linking women to markets and transforming
their farming activities into business ventures. This is
true for women small-scale producers in other sectors
Box 5: Gender patterns in informal employment
While employment in the informal sector is an important source of employment for men in developing countries, it is even
more so for women. For instance, in the late 1990s, 84 per cent of women non-agricultural workers in sub-Saharan Africa
were informally employed compared with 63 per cent of men; in Latin America the comparable figures were 58 per cent
of women compared with 48 per cent of men.
Source: DESA 2010.
132. eNTry pOINTS fOr applyINg a geNder leNS TO STI
as well (Wakhungu, 2010; UNDAW, 2010).
Finally, there are very few women in management and
leadership positions in medium and large enterprises.
The gender gap affects national innovation systems
and the ability of countries to compete in global
innovation systems. It is caused by similar issues as
discussed earlier, namely lack of access to technical
and scientific education and training, lack of access to
venture capital, lack of recognition of and protection
of women’s knowledge and innovations, and lack of
training of women for enterprise development (GAB,
2010; Huyer and Hafkin, 2007).
2.3 Women in science: gender equality in science,
technology and engineering
Science and technology enables women to have
greater influence over their own livelihoods and
to contribute to society. Gender equity in science,
technology and engineering will provide opportunities
for women to influence R&D agendas within the
private sector and research institutions.
Core issues include: (i) education at primary
levels and educating girls and women in S&T
at secondary and tertiary levels; (ii) supporting
women’s recruitment, retention, advancement and
leadership in the S&T workforce in both public and
private sectors; and (iii) promoting gender equality
in scientific decision-making, including in national
scientific institutions, grant and hiring committees
2.3.1 Gender equality trends and issues in science
Gender parity in education at the primary level is
increasing in most countries, although, overall, there
are still fewer girls than boys enrolled in primary
Box 6: Gender trends at primary and secondary levels
Overall, the global adult literacy rate increased from 76 per cent around 1990 to 83 per cent in 2008. Women continue to
account for two thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate adults – a trend which has remained constant over the past 20
years, despite a decline in the total illiterate population. Three regions have achieved, or are close to achieving, universal
adult literacy: Central Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and North America and Western Europe. Literacy levels are high
in East Asia and the Pacific (91 per cent for women and 96 per cent for men), and Latin America and the Caribbean (90
per cent for women and 92 per cent for men). However, they are much lower in Arab States (81 per cent for men and
63 per cent for women), and sub-Saharan Africa (71 per cent for men and 53 percent for women). South and West Asia
have the largest gender gap in literacy, with 81 per cent literacy for men and 51 per cent for women. Almost three in four
illiterate women in the world are found in 11 countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Nigeria and Pakistan (UIS, 2010).
Improvements in literacy levels of women would increase girls’ access to education and gender parity. In almost all
countries, literacy rates of the young are higher than those of adults, and have been accompanied by declining gender
disparities (UIS, 2010).
Gender parity in education at the primary level is increasing in most countries. In countries with gender disparity, the
disparities are in favour of boys in three out of every four countries that report on intake ratios. Of the 161 countries
which report enrolment levels, 96 have reached gender parity and 65 still experience gender disparity in access. Sub-
Saharan Africa has the highest gender disparity, with 93 girls starting school for every 100 boys. In South and West Asia
the disparity is even larger in absolute numbers (because of the greater number of boys of school starting age in the
population), with 87 girls starting school for every 100 boys. In other regions, most countries have reached gender parity
in school intake. In a small number of countries (15 of 165 reporting), the disparity of intake is in favour of girls, with the
greatest disparities found in Anguilla, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Mauritania, Montserrat and Nauru.a
Gender trends affecting school attendance vary. For example:
– Poor rural girls living in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic spend, on average, more than twice as much time as
boys on household chores and are more likely not to attend school.
– In Nicaragua, household wealth is an important predictor of secondary school attendance and enrolment at the
appropriate grade level.
– In Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania poor girls face considerable barriers
to school attendance, and those who begin classes are more likely to drop out compared with children from other
Source: UIS, 2010.
a The reasons for this are unclear, but it may be the result of countries catching up with a backlog of over-age girls entering
school late, while more boys are enrolled at the official entry age.
14 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
grades (Box 6). However, gender patterns are different
with respect to science education, with consistent and
larger gender imbalances in favour of boys and men.
Gender imbalances continue to exist at the primary
and secondary education levels:
• At the primary level, even though girls and boys
have the same access to coursework, they do not
emerge with the same levels of understanding
due to lack of relevant life experiences and ability
to participate actively in class (Malcom, 2010).
• Girls do not pursue science and technical studies
at the same rate as boys, though there is variation
by subject and by country. Societal and parental
attitudes towards boys’ and girls’ abilities play a
role, as do choices concerning investment in girls’
education (World Bank, 2009a).
• Quality of teaching materials and perceptions that
girls are less able to “do” science, as expressed
in teaching pedagogy and curricula, play a role
in influencing gender perceptions, interests and
self-confidence (UNESCO, 2007).
• Girls and boys have varying access to technical
and vocational education.
Developing countries face a common set of
challenges in the provision of science education
and in encouraging high performance and interest
among both girls and boys. According to the science
education programme of the InterAmerican Network
of Academies of Science (IANAS), “science education
of our children [in the Latin America and Caribbean
region] at the primary and secondary levels is generally
inadequate. The curricula and the methods used in
most schools of the hemisphere and of the world do
not convey the fascination of scientific research and
Box 7: Gender related barriers to science education
The following are some of the major barriers to girls’ access to and retention in education, including STI education.
Cost: Opportunity costs of attending school are usually viewed as higher for girls than for boys, as girls are expected to
assist their mothers with household chores. Boys are seen as more likely to support their parents in later years. Women
and girls are often not considered a good investment for advanced degrees when the advantages of this investment are
seen as accruing to the family they marry into.
Support from the family: Traditional and social practices, such as early marriage, hinder girls’ full participation in education.
Lack of participation in the community (i.e. school activities) can result in a lack of commitment and understanding by
parents of the importance of education.
School environment: Lack of appropriate space and equipment, including sanitation facilities, and distance to school
also affect girls’ participation in terms of time availability, safety and security.
Conflict: While conflicts affect school attendance of both girls and boys, girls are more likely to be kept at home for
reasons of safety. They may also need to fill in for boys’ labour on the farm and at home when men and boys leave home
to participate in armed conflict. Long-running conflicts, such as the Mozambique civil war, cause men to spend much of
their school-going years in armed conflict, which reduces men’s enrolment rates.
Distance from school: Girls in rural areas are less likely than boys to attend school. As such, girls are the first to benefit
from construction programmes that reduce the average distance between home and school.
Teaching and learning materials: Lack of textbooks, adequate materials, interesting and relevant curricula and facilities
that spark students’ interests are obstacles to good performance. Curricula for science subjects tend not to portray
women and girls as active learners and scientists. Lack of co-curricular activities to enhance the core subjects and
support complementary and supplementary learning also affects performance and choice of subject.
Student and teacher attitudes: Girls often lack the confidence to effectively participate in class, particularly in STI-related
subjects, which are seen as a man’s domain. Teachers often reinforce these perceptions consciously or unconsciously.
Cultural attitudes and practices: Some cultures restrict the movement of girls and women, which affects their access to
education. Similarly, in some cultures where boys and girls are not supposed to interact outside the home and family,
co-educational schools are considered inappropriate.
Guidance and counselling: Many schools lack effective guidance and counselling systems, and do not provide
counselling related to the specific needs of girls.
Information systems: Many schools do not collect and keep records of the progress of the students in terms of enrolment,
attendance, achievement and drop-out rates, or data on teacher participation and performance. As a result, it is difficult
to monitor how girls are doing. This can lead to limited follow-up in terms of improving performance of female students
Source: FAWE, 1998 and 2000; Malcom, 2010; UIS, 2010; Schiebinger, 2010.
152. eNTry pOINTS fOr applyINg a geNder leNS TO STI
do not transmit the values and approaches that make
science relevant to everyday life and to responsible
citizenship” (IANAS, undated).
In sub-Saharan Africa, science, mathematics and
technology education faces challenges of participation,
equity, quality and relevance, resources and expertise.
A study of 12 countries in that sub-region by Female
Education in Mathematics and Science in Africa
(FEMSA) during the period 1996–2001 revealed that,
while science curricula cover a large range of issues
relevant to the African context, most science curricula
generally failed to include everyday experiences that
make science more interesting to students. Other
studies have indicated that teaching strategies and
materials may be consistently biased towards certain
types of skills, roles, experiences and applications
that are closely linked to gender. The net result is that
science is more accessible to boys than to girls. Many
African countries have developed national policies
on science, mathematics and technology education
(NEPAD, cited in Masanja, 2010). Common objectives
in these policies include demystifying science and
technology; seeking increased funding for the
sector; promoting women’s science, mathematics
and technology education; building science and
technology institutional and human capacity; as well
as protecting and promoting indigenous knowledge
systems (Masanja, 2010).
While clear advances are being made towards gender
parity in education (Box 6), the participation of girls and
women in STI education remains lower than that of males
in all regions. In Chile, for instance, of all the students
who enrolled in secondary level technical streams, 82
per cent of girls chose a commercial specialization, while
58 per cent of boys (and 13 per cent of girls) chose a
form of industrial specialization (UNESCO, 2003). In the
United States, girls are earning high school credits in
maths and sciences at the same rate as boys, although
fewer girls than boys take advanced placement exams
in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
(STEM). At the same time, an increasingly larger
proportion of girls are high achievers in mathematics.
Both boys and girls from minority groups, such as
African-Americans and Hispanic students, have less
access to advanced courses in maths and sciences
in high school, which may explain why only a small
proportion of them take STEM-related subjects at the
tertiary level (AAUW, 2010).
The low level of participation of women in science,
technology and engineering is often a natural
consequence of gender imbalance at the primary
level. However, lower rates of access to and retention
in education and STI education for women and girls
stem from a range of barriers at different levels (Box
In the majority of countries around the world, all
levels of tertiary education in science, technology
and engineering fields are dominated by men
(Schiebinger, 2010: 10):
• Women make up the majority of tertiary level
students overall, but in STEM there are more
men (with very few exceptions, such as first-
level degree studies in Cyprus, Qatar and Sierra
Leone). In 2007, women accounted for 41 per cent
of enrolments in the natural sciences and 21 per
cent in engineering at the tertiary level (UNESCO,
2007 and 2010).
• There is a larger proportion of women in
behavioural and life sciences (UNESCO, 2010).
• Despite promising numbers in some countries
and disciplines at the first degree level, there
is a decreasing representation of women in
science-related fields worldwide – often known
as the “leaky pipeline” problem. Females tend
to drop out of STEM subjects in primary and
secondary education due to a lack of preparation
for advanced studies and careers in STEM, few
female S&T role models, and a gender bias
in STEM subjects, which are often viewed as a
male-dominated area (Blickenstaff, 2005). Some
women who graduate at the post-secondary
level leave their professions and few continue
to senior level positions. For example, in India
women accounted for 32 per cent of all first-
level degrees and for 20 per cent of all third-level
degrees in physics, but made up only 11 per cent
of professionally employed physicists (Kurup et
In general, the percentage of women working in
scientific fields, in both the public and private sectors,
is low throughout the world, including the industrialized
countries13, with average participation rates of 30 per
cent. In R&D positions, participation rates are even
lower. Also, there is a smaller percentage of women
than men in energy and information technology
industries, among others (OECD, 2008; EC, 2009; see
also Kurup et al., 2010; Abreu, 2010; IAC, 2004).
Women in science careers face particular challenges
that may not be prominent in other occupations, since
“scientists have the longest period of qualification,
16 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
high levels of career insecurity and international
mobility as a key element of their careers”14 (EC,
2005). Other challenges confronting women in
science professions include wage gaps that tend
to be wider in male-dominated fields, long working
hours in laboratories and funding structures that rely
on external sources, which are often awarded to full-
time staff only, leaving part-time staff, who are often
women, at a disadvantage (EC, 2008). Addressing
these imbalances and increasing gender equity in
S&T requires policy intervention and capacity-building
in a number of areas. Policy measures to encourage
women’s career advancement in science include, for
instance: (i) providing work-life balance arrangements
such as teleworking, leave of absence, personal time
off, equal maternal and paternal paid leave and on-
site childcare services; (ii) professional development
training, fast-track programmes, and guidance by
female mentors; and (iii) anti-discrimination regulations
relating to recruitment, salary, advancement and
pregnancy, as well as gender parity targets or quotas
in all ranks of organizations. In the Republic of Korea,
for example, the Government actively promotes
and supports women in S&T by providing childcare
centres for women in research, awarding fellowships
and publicizing women’s achievements to increase
their visibility, as well as setting recruitment targets for
women in government-funded institutions (Simard et
al., 2008; UNDAW, 2010).
2.4 Women in innovation systems
With respect to the role of women in innovation
systems, key issues include certain preconditions for
participation (such as access to education, capital
and markets) and “innovation by women for women’s
needs”, which also involves improving women’s
livelihoods, for instance, by adding value to farming
products and helping them access markets through
collective arrangements (Murenzi et al., 2010).
Establishing preconditions for women’s participation in
innovation involves understanding their work patterns
in order to identify their needs. As indicated above,
much of women’s productive work takes place in the
informal sector. In addition to their roles as farmers and
caregivers of their families, women often supplement
family income through income-generating activities,
in some cases relying on microfinance. As a result,
they are in greater need of access to financing and
credit, through, for instance, micro-credit schemes to
access loans for business expansion, venture capital
and other forms of ongoing financing.
Promoting innovation requires supporting
entrepreneurship through market mechanisms,
ensuring that businesses can operate effectively
and productively, and that political and economic
institutions adjust to a changing technological,
economic and international environment. Gender
issues in entrepreneurial development and innovation
relate primarily to a lack of recognition of, or a
tendency to overlook, women’s micro and small
sized enterprises (particularly in the informal sector).
This translates into lack of support, resources, credit
and financing, and training and education for women
entrepreneurs. Overall, women’s enterprises tend to
use fewer, if any, technologies compared with men’s
enterprises, due to their lower educational levels,
as well as less resource support and women’s lack
of comfort with technology, among other reasons
(UNDAW, 2010; Huyer, 2008).
As a result of globalization, SMEs need support
to participate in regional and global value chains
connecting local, national, regional and international
markets, and to evolve rapidly with the expansion
of supermarkets and of demand in industrialized
countries for fresh produce throughout the year.
Gender differences in access to resources and
benefits determine whether women’s micro, small and
medium sized enterprises can compete successfully
at national, regional and international levels, and
whether they can provide the quality of goods
expected by large international buyers. STI involves
not only technological support in production and
quality processes, but also business support through
advice, training and market access (UNDAW, 2010).
While support to women’s small-scale enterprises is
a critical consideration when developing a national
innovation system, women’s representation in large-
scale innovation systems should not be overlooked.
Issues include women’s representation at senior
management levels, access to venture capital and
financing, and knowledge of business and intellectual
property rights management.
There is also need for a greater understanding of
the gender implications, opportunities and benefits
of large-scale innovation and infrastructure, such
as large-scale farming, agribusiness and power
distribution systems. For example, it is important to
consider the potential opportunities for women’s
livelihoods that could be created from implementation
of local-level energy, water or infrastructure projects.
In 2006, the CSTD, through its Gender Advisory Board
173. STI pOlIcy uSINg a geNder leNS
(GAB), identified a newly emerging Transformative
Action Area 8 (in addition to the seven it had identified
earlier, see Chapter 1, Box 1), which it referred to as
“Equal opportunity for entry and advancement into
larger-scale science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics (STEM) and innovation systems.” Few
international bodies have recognized the importance
of this issue.15 As noted by the GAB: “Advancement
into management and leadership of high level STEM
organizations, and the ability to establish and manage
successful medium and large-scale enterprises, are
important factors for national innovation systems and
the ability of countries to compete in global innovation
systems” (Box 8).
Women’s role as innovators is less acknowledged than
that of men in formal STI development approaches.
Increasingly, however, the innovations developed
by women to address some of the challenges
in the agriculture, water and energy sectors are
becoming more recognized and documented. These
innovations tend to take the form of new organizational
processes and/or new approaches to management of
agricultural and natural resources, which contribute to
greater resilience at the community level. Solutions
are developed from women’s knowledge, experience
and understanding of the locality, soil and planting
conditions, environmental and climate patterns, and
animal behaviour. When refined and replicated, they
can resolve a range of problems sustainably and
affordably, while also serving as a means of increasing
In this context, the challenges for governments are
to build on women’s existing innovative capabilities,
support both women and men to develop and use STI
for sustainable social and economic development,
and support women’s participation and leadership
in the STI sector. It will require understanding and
assessing the challenges confronting women,
promoting gender equality in national development
sectors and developing STI policies and programmes
based on this assessment.
Encouraging and supporting science for women,
and women in science, as well as enhancing the
role of women in innovation systems at national and
grassroots levels are three key areas in applying the
gender lens to STI. Many successful and innovative
programmes have emerged at regional, national and
local levels to promote gender balance and address
women’s concerns in each of the three areas. These
are discussed next in Chapter 3.
3. STI policy using a gender lens
A gender perspective is an essential element in
tackling developmental, environmental and poverty
challenges, and it should be incorporated not only
in the research agenda, but also in the products,
processes and implementation mechanisms created
to respond to the challenges.
As discussed in Chapter 2, applying a gender lens
to STI involves understanding how S&T can support
women’s well-being and development activities as
well as the contributions women can make to STI
Gender mainstreaming is one strategy to accomplish
this. The ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions, 1997/2,
defines gender mainstreaming as:
“The process of assessing the implications for women
and men of any planned action, including legislation,
policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It
is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences
of women as well as of men an integral part of the
design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
of policies and programmes in all political, economic
and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit
equally, and inequality is not perpetuated.”
Box 8: Transformative Action Area 8
Transformative Action Area 8 (equal opportunity for entry and advancement into larger-scale science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and innovation systems) recognizes that encouraging women to undertake design
and control of development, production, marketing, and distribution will create jobs, generate wealth and contribute to
national economic growth. Steps should be taken to encourage women’s participation in innovation systems through
their own enterprises as well as through their active engagement in innovative industries (including information and
communications technologies (ICTs) and advanced networks) at senior levels. Related activities include promoting and
facilitating women’s inventions, protecting women’s intellectual property rights, and enabling their access to capital for
industrial/entrepreneurial development, whether it be micro-credit or venture capital.
Source: GAB, undated.
18 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
By this definition, at present very few national policies
for industry, innovation, S&T and/or ICT mainstream
gender equality. For instance, while the World Summit
on the Information Society (WSIS) called for women’s
“full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres
of society and in all decision-making processes” and
the mainstreaming of “a gender equality perspective
and use [of] ICTs as a tool to that end”,17 few
national ICT policies contain substantive references
to gender equality (Hafkin, 2002; Huyer, 2006). The
UNESCO World Conference on Science called
for a comprehensive approach by Governments,
international agencies and civil society to promote
and encourage the participation of women and girls
in science (Box 9).
Relatively few national S&T policies reflect this
approach. Nevertheless, there are some countries
which underscore the importance of social and
economic development in their STI policies, and this
involves integrating gender equality into those policies
and programming (Box 10).
With the exception of a few countries, national gender
policies and gender agencies also rarely consider
S&T or ICT policy to be part of their area of concern. In
order to encourage the application of a gender lens in
national STI policies it is necessary to:
• Collect gender-disaggregated data before and
after policies and programmes are implemented;
• Undertake research on different impacts to
support the integration of gender considerations
in policy development and implementation
• Promote the input of women into STI policy-
making at all levels – from grassroots to national
and international policy fora;
• Establish expert multi-stakeholder groups to
advise on translation of policy into programmes;
• Develop a policy and legal framework to guide
national planning, as well as the mechanisms and
structures to operationalize policies;
• Establish performance monitoring and evaluation
mechanisms to assess effectiveness and impact;
• Scale up smaller initiatives which have had
successful gender equality outcomes to the
national and/or regional level.
The focus should be on approaches that are problem-
based, multidisciplinary and multi-dimensional, which
mobilise the resources of the public and private
sectors as well as civil society, and which include
development of information and human resources
(Malcom, 2003; Huyer, 2010).
As observed in Chapter 2, the gender gap in STI policy
for most countries – and the STI gap in gender policy
– lies in a failure to understand the role of women in
social and economic development and the ways in
which S&T can improve the lives of women. There is
Box 9: UNESCO World Conference on Science: excerpt from the Framework for Action 1999
“90. Taking into account the outcome of the six regional forums on women and science sponsored by UNESCO, the
Conference stresses that special efforts should be made by governments, educational institutions, scientific communities,
non-governmental organizations and civil society, with support from bilateral and international agencies, to ensure the full
participation of women and girls in all aspects of science and technology, and to this effect to:
• Promote within the education system the access of girls and women to scientific education at all levels;
• Improve conditions for recruitment, retention and advancement in all fields of research;
• Launch, in collaboration with UNESCO and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), national,
regional and global campaigns to raise awareness of the contribution of women to science and technology, in order
to overcome existing gender stereotypes among scientists, policy-makers and the community at large;
• Undertake research, supported by the collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated data, documenting
constraints and progress in expanding the role of women in science and technology;
• Monitor the implementation of and document best practices and lessons learned through impact assessment and
• Ensure an appropriate representation of women in national, regional and international policy- and decision-making
bodies and forums;
• Establish an international network of women scientists;
• Continue to document the contributions of women in science and technology.
To sustain these initiatives governments should create appropriate mechanisms, where these do not yet exist, to propose
and monitor introduction of the necessary policy changes in support of the attainment of these goals.”
Source: UNESCO, 1999.
193. STI pOlIcy uSINg a geNder leNS
also a lack of understanding of the need to improve
women’s abilities to fulfil their productive, reproductive
and community management responsibilities and of
the real and potential roles of women in research,
development and innovation.
This chapter examines some of the current
experiences with STI policy design for development,
discusses their implications for women and gender
equality, and explores avenues for making STI policies
This chapter discusses the following key issues:
• Policy coherence: harmonization and integration
of STI policies with other social and economic
• Evidence-based policy-making;
• Evaluating and monitoring of gender trends in
• Integrating gender equality into policy-making
and programming, and encouraging women’s
participation in decision-making at all levels; and
• Scaling up: extending programmes that have
proved successful at subnational levels to the
Drawing on examples and models of policy
approaches from the STI and gender perspective, this
chapter sets the stage for the subsequent discussion
on implementation of STI policy and programming in
3.2 Policy coherence: harmonization and integration
of STI policies
It is increasingly recognized that STI can make
an important contribution to national growth and
sustainable development. More and more countries
are orienting their national STI policies and systems to
take advantage of new and emerging technologies in
order to compete globally, as well as to reduce poverty.
Approaches to policy formulation should focus on
applying STI that is locally relevant to development
needs – including social, economic and environmental
needs (see Juma and Lee, 2006). China provides a
good example of this: the State Council developed
a national Medium- and Long-Term Programme for
Science and Technology Development for 2006–2020,
which aims to increase the contribution of science and
technology to national development to 60 per cent
by 2020. To achieve this, technological development
in 11 major sectors, including energy and water
resources, has been identified as a priority strategy
to resolve problems that are hindering the country’s
socio-economic development (Chen, 2006).
In order to make S&T policies more effective in
meeting national development goals, not only should
the range of issues and inputs to be considered in
policy and programming be expanded, but also STI
policy and strategies should be more closely aligned
with other national policies. Innovation policies require
Box 10: Incorporating gender equality in STI policy
A few developing countries have begun to include a gender perspective in their STI policies, as indicated in some of the
The Republic of Korea has been supporting the participation of women in its STI sector at all levels, including through
its “Women’s Informatization” programme.a In 2003, the country passed legislation fostering and supporting women
scientists and technicians, and in support of this the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology implemented a
recruitment target system through its National Science and Technology Council with the aim of increasing the percentage
of women hired in its 98 national and governmental S&T institutes to 30 per cent.
Rwanda has committed to reforming its public sector to ensure that “women shall be empowered to participate fully in
S&T development and management” (Government of the Republic of Rwanda, 2006). The Government of India’s S&T
policy identifies as one of its objectives: “To promote the empowerment of women in all science and technology activities
and ensure their full and equal participation”, and refers to the need to provide women with opportunities for higher
education and skills to pursue careers in R&D. Brazil is one of the few countries where the Ministry of Policy for Women
has adopted S&T as one of its programme areas. Gambia has a gender policy which emphasizes the promotion of
science education for both girls and boys.
Source: Lee, 2010; Government of the Republic of Rwanda, 2006; Department of Science and Technology, Government
of India, 2003; Abreu, 2010.
aThe One Million Housewives programme was launched in 2000, and was expanded to two million housewives in 2003.
The programme included an introduction to the use of personal computers, and training on use of the Internet for
shopping, e-mail, and searching for information. As a result, by 2002, 44 per cent of housewives were using the Internet
compared with only 1.8 per cent in 1999 (Lee, 2003).
20 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
greater collaboration among different development
partners in a country – including public, private
and research institutions – as well as appropriate
regulations and enforcement to ensure a stable and
more predictable market conducive to business
development. Nigeria began rethinking its S&T policy
in 2010, having recognized that it was not adequately
addressing (or intersecting with) the wider socio-
economic development challenges in the country
(Ahrens, 2005; Abutu, 2010).
There are examples of some sectors that have
incorporated gender equality objectives in their
policies, but seldom in STI policies. Several countries
have implemented or are in the process of implementing
some variation of a gender mainstreaming policy
across government departments, including STI
ministries. In the United Republic of Tanzania, for
instance, the Government is trying to integrate gender
equality into institutional and reform processes in
key sectors and programmes, such as civil service
reform, education, health, water and agriculture, as
well as in the national AIDS prevention programme.
Actions include establishment of gender focal points
in departments, capacity-building and training on
gender, and gender budgeting initiatives. Gender
equality goals are included in the key outcomes and
targets of the National Development Programme for
2025 (TGNP, 2006).
Another example is the European Charter for Equality
of Women and Men in Local Life. Launched in May
2006 by the Council of European Municipalities and
Regions, there are now more than 500 cities, regions
and municipalities that have signed on to the Charter.
It encourages local and regional governments to
make a formal commitment to draw up and implement
action plans to promote gender equality in all spheres
of life, as well as to counter gender-based stereotypes
and combat gender-related disadvantages (UN-
HABITAT, 2008). This binding set of guidelines for
policy provides a useful model for mainstreaming
gender into local and subnational policy initiatives
dealing with STI issues in infrastructure, transport and
energy, among others.
3.3 Evidence-based policy: learning from experience
Evidence-based policy is the “incorporation of rigorous
research evidence into public policy debates and
internal public sector processes for policy evaluation
Box 11: Promoting evidence-based policy-making for gender equity
Key factors identified by the Asia Development Bank for developing and mainstreaming gender equality through
evidence-based policy approaches include:
1) Collecting gender-disaggregated data, for:
• Developing indicators on which to base targeted measures to reduce gender disparities;
• Increasing awareness of gender-related issues among policymakers;
• Promoting gender mainstreaming in government programmes and donor-assisted development projects; and
• Regularly monitoring gender disparities using empirical data.
2) Using technical expertise to include gender equality in national development plans.
3) Using technical expertise to support national agencies to analyse, develop and implement gender equality strategies
within national development policies.
4) Strengthening the capacity of governments to systematically monitor gender equality efforts and include gender-
related initiatives in development strategies.
5) Evaluating resource allocations in government planning, programming and budgeting.
Source: ADB, 2010.
Box 12: Resources on gender indicators
Various international organizations have taken measures to support the collection of gender-disaggregated data on
technology and development in different sectors. The following are examples of some of the initiatives taken:
• Gender-Disaggregated Data on Water and Sanitation, Expert Group Meeting Report, United Nations Department of
Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) and United Nations Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development
• UNESCO Information Toolkit on Gender Indicators in Engineering, Science and Technology, 2007.
• Developing Gender Statistics, UNECE and the World Bank Institute, 2010.
213. STI pOlIcy uSINg a geNder leNS
and programme improvement” (Head, 2010). Its
objective is to bring about social, economic and
environmental improvements through the application
of reliable and appropriate knowledge. Achieving
this goal requires institutional capacity to develop
and implement evidence-based policy (Head, 2010).
Such institutional capacity can be developed through
three main components: high-quality, well-researched
information on relevant issues, professionals with skills
in data analysis and policy evaluation, and political
incentives for using evidence-based analysis and
advice in governmental decision-making processes.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has identified key
ways of mainstreaming gender equality in government
decision-making processes through evidence-based
policy planning and development (Box 11).
For example, research conducted on the adoption of
agricultural biotechnology by women and men found
that crop traits of interest to poor farmers in developing
countries are being neglected, and in many regions
women’s crop trait preferences are also neglected.
Agriculture-related R&D tends to exclude crops
that tend to be grown by women, such as cowpea,
bambaranut, sorghum and household vegetables.
It does not try to produce traits to help ease milling
and storability, or consider characteristics that affect
the amount of labour used in producing or processing
food, which in turn affects household food security.
3.4 Evaluation and monitoring of gender trends in
Generally, little gender-disaggregated data is
collected in a systematic manner, which would show
the participation of women in STI. Much of the data
that is collected tends to focus on the formal S&T
system, primarily with regard to enrolments and
faculty positions in universities. There is need, for
instance, for gender-disaggregated data on access to
and use of rural and urban small-scale technologies
and innovation systems, but little is available to date.
Some examples of approaches to collecting gender-
disaggregated data on STI in different sectors are
identified in Box 12.
Some initiatives are under way to collect gender-
disaggregated data on women’s participation in STI in
various sectors in a systematic and detailed way. The
South Africa National Advisory Council on Innovation
(NACI), for instance, produces S&T indicators and
Box 13: Gender audit of energy policy in Botswana
The gender audit of energy policy in Botswana illustrates how gender concerns could be integrated into sectoral policies.
It involved an in-depth gender analysis of energy planning, budgets, the institutional capacity of ministries to implement
gender-mainstreaming strategies, the links between gender, energy and national objectives for poverty reduction
strategies and meeting the MDGs. The audit identified how and which gender issues were, or were not, being addressed,
as well as critical gender gaps in existing national energy policy formulation and implementation.
The gender audit was undertaken by the Botswana Technology Centre in 2005, in close consultation with the Energy
Affairs Division (EAD) – responsible for national energy policy under the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources
– and other key stakeholders.
The findings of the audit were that energy policies and programmes were gender blind, and that the Draft Energy Policy
of Botswana had been developed without adequate consultation with household residents, particularly women, who are
the major users and managers of domestic energy resources. It also found that there was a lack of gender-disaggregated
data on financial resources, and a general lack of association between energy services and the MDG targets.
As a result of the audit, short training workshops on gender and energy concepts have been conducted for EAD staff,
with similar training planned (at time of publication of the gender audit) for the Women’s Affairs Department and the
rural electrification staff of the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC). It was found that the workshop increased the gender
awareness of the latter, and this inspired the initiation of a gender mainstreaming initiative in the BPC rural electrification
programme. A pilot study was also undertaken for the collection of gender-disaggregated data to identify differences in
the use of energy fuels and technologies by men and women, the results of which were included in the final Botswana
National Energy Policy.
The gender audit raised awareness of gender issues and the existing gaps in energy policies and programmes that
policymakers had not been aware of. Discussions ensued during and after the audit, which gave energy project officers
a better understanding of gender issues. The audit therefore played a major role in creating awareness and promoting
information exchange. This shows that gender audits of energy policies and programmes can be a good starting point
to raise awareness of gender issues in developing countries.
Source: Karlsson (ed.), 2007.
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data concerning publications, enrolments, graduates,
degrees and researchers that are disaggregated by
gender (NACI, 2009).
Other potential approaches to data collection and
• Gender-responsive budgeting, whereby resources
are allocated to policies and programmes that
redress gender inequality in society;
• Gender analysis of technology development at
the local level through methodologies such as
participatory development approaches; and
• Integrating an ongoing monitoring mechanism
into national gender- mainstreaming policies.
Although it has yet to be applied to national STI
policies, gender-responsive budgeting has become
an effective strategy to integrate gender equality
efforts into national policies relating to STI in various
sectors. It involves the allocation of resources towards
activities which support or facilitate gender equality,
and the subsequent monitoring of the use of those
Aside from gender budgeting, gender auditing can
also be a useful tool for gender mainstreaming in
STI. While not yet used extensively on STI in various
sectors, the example of a gender audit of energy
policy in Botswana provides a concrete example of
effective mainstreaming (Box 13, previous page).
3.5 Gender impact assessment of STI policies18
Applying a gender lens to STI policy would require
the integration of a gender perspective throughout
the policy-making process – from analysis and
design, to implementation, monitoring and follow-up.
Greater efforts are needed to conduct gender impact
assessments of existing and new STI policies, in order
to understand how these policies affect the lives of
both women and men. Assessments should be made
of STI-related legislation, policies, programmes,
services and budgets to determine whether they
deliver equal opportunities for women and men. The
results of these assessments could provide useful
insights and guidance to the policy-making process.
3.6 Implementing STI policy using a gender lens:
examples of national and regional approaches
Recent years have witnessed the emergence of some
innovative models of gender-sensitive policy-making
at national and regional levels. Brazil, China, Ghana,
India, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda and South Africa
are just a few countries that have developed policies
to more effectively integrate gender into national STI
systems. However, unless policies are translated into
action at national and local levels to address the main
facets of gender and STI (discussed in Chapter 2),
those policies will remain ineffective no matter how
enlightened they are.
Box 14: South Africa’s Set4Women
In 2003, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) convened a “reference group” (SARG) to advise it on priorities,
key directions and successful strategies. The SARG – now called SET4Women in the National Advisory Council on
Innovation (NACI) – is composed of stakeholders and representatives of organizations with an interest in science,
innovation and the progress of women in science. Its mandate is to monitor and advise the DST and the National
Research Foundation, which is tasked to set up an R&D capacity-building programme for “historically disadvantaged
individuals” (Government of the Republic of South Africa, 2002).
The establishment of SARG was a response to a number of requirements for addressing the priorities of its various
constituents, such as diversity of membership, including race and gender (several members were men), representation
from diverse regions to provide advice based on their experiences, and representation from different sectors – universities,
and private and civil society. SARG also oversaw the initiation of the first comprehensive gender-disaggregated data
collection initiative for S&T in the country, which was also disaggregated by race (SARG, 2004). The data are to be
updated every four years.
SET4Women currently acts as a 10-person standing committee of the National Advisory Council on Innovation. It
undertakes a number of activities, including publishing papers, data collection and organizing regular seminars and
symposiums on topics relating to women in science and engineering. DST also presents Women in Science awards
to distinguished scientists, and the Government of South Africa, through its National Research Foundation, supports
the promotion of research capabilities at South African higher educational and research institutions, particularly among
previously disadvantaged socio-economic groups (i.e. black researchers, female researchers and disabled researchers).
Source: Government of the Republic of South Africa, 2002.
233. STI pOlIcy uSINg a geNder leNS
Policy without institutional capacity and strategies for
implementation and monitoring will not accomplish
gender equality goals. This section presents a
range of programmes and initiatives at the national
and regional levels to promote gender balance and
respond to women’s concerns in STI-related areas.
They highlight the importance of collaboration
among different sectors and social groups, as well
as innovative practices and approaches, to ensure
that both women and men contribute equally to the
development and implementation of STI policies, and
benefit equally from their results.
3.6.1 Examples of initiatives at the national level
Including women in the innovation system: South Africa
In 2002, the South Africa Department of Science
and Technology (DST) initiated a series of activities
in response to the South Africa Research and
Development Strategy, which resulted in a longer
term set of initiatives and programmes. One of the
strategy’s objectives is to “increase the number of
women and people from previously disadvantaged
communities entering the sciences and remaining
there”. It outlines a series of strategies to accomplish
this, including promoting excellence in maths and
sciences among young women, special programmes
to promote women in science, and special
extracurricular activities to support girls and blacks in
maths and science (Box 14).
The South African Women in Science Policy Platform
is supported by a range of other policies in the
country, which seek to enhance and promote gender
equality in the national context. The Government’s
gender management system involves a range of
actors: the legislature, parliament, statutory bodies
and civil society organizations, such as the Office on
the Status of Women, the Commission on Gender
Equality, gender focal points and units in government
departments, the Women’s Empowerment Unit which
aims to identify and remove obstacles to women’s
full participation in law-making, the Parliamentary
Women’s Caucus and the Parliamentary Committee
on the Life and Status of Women (Box 15).
Promoting women in S&T: India
In a similar initiative in India, the Department of
Science and Technology in the Ministry of Science
and Technology convened a Taskforce on Women
in Science in 2005. The Task Force was made up
primarily of stakeholders from science institutions,
from several disciplines and regions of the country.
It held a series of meetings and hearings to
develop recommendations for actions to promote
and encourage women to enter scientific and
technological professions, to encourage girls to opt
for S&T education, to work with other departments
and organizations in actions to encourage gender
equality, and to consider and recommend any other
measures to increase the involvement of women
in S&T in the country. The Task Force produced a
comprehensive set of recommendations for the
Box 15: National policy framework for gender equality in South Africa
The Office on the Status of Women within the President’s office coordinates the work of the Status of Women provincial
offices and of gender desks in government departments. Its specific functions include:
• The promotion of affirmative action in government;
• Supporting government bodies to integrate gender perspectives in policies and programmes;
• Organizing gender training within government departments; and
• Helping different government departments to work together on gender issues.
The main functions of the Commission on Gender Equality include: monitoring all organs of society on gender equality,
assessing all legislation from a gender perspective, commissioning research and making recommendations to Parliament
and other relevant authorities, educating and informing the public, investigating complaints on gender-related issues,
and monitoring the country’s progress towards gender equality in relation to international norms. The Commission on
Gender Equality also actively campaigns to increase the representation of women in local government.
At the local level, the South African Local Government Association has established a National Women’s Caucus to
coordinate women’s empowerment in local government. There is also a Women’s National Coalition, which represents
the interests of women in the National Economic, Development and Labour Council, a government-sponsored forum
involving business, the Government and the unions.
A national Gender Budgeting Initiative analyses the national budget and assesses its impact on women and men, as well
as providing the opportunity for women to exert influence on the budget process.
Source: Government of the Republic of South Africa, 2002.
24 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
public and private sectors and research institutions
aimed at improving the participation of women in S&T.
Additionally, a set of projects was initiated to showcase
women’s achievements in S&T, and to encourage
girls and women to join S&T professions. These
projects included examining gender stereotypes
in science textbooks, developing a dedicated
website,19 publishing a book and organizing a national
conference highlighting the achievements of women
scientists (Government of India, 2009).
Promoting use of the gender lens in STI policies for
agriculture and natural resource management: the
experiences of China, Indonesia and the Philippines
Examples of a number of national initiatives in East
and South-East Asia show how government units in
different departments can learn and apply a gender
lens to STI for development.
The Chinese Government, for example, supports
the All-China Women’s Federation in promoting the
development of women and children nationwide. Its
focus relating to STI is to enhance women’s knowledge
of science and help women out of poverty through
training in S&T. Related activities include: education
and skills training of young women in rural areas, and
teaching women in the central and eastern regions
about new technologies and the market economy to
improve their income-generating activities.
In Indonesia, the Agency for Agricultural Research and
Development of the Ministry of Agriculture promotes
the integration of a gender perspective in agricultural
research at universities, and in socio-economic
analyses and evaluations of agricultural programmes.
In the Philippines, the Council for Agriculture, Forestry
and Natural Resources Research and Development
(PCARRD) – the national policy planning and
coordinating council for agriculture and forestry –
is mandated to address gender issues and build
institutional mechanisms to support gender and
development. It provides training and advocacy
for government officials, policymakers, planners,
programme implementers and development workers
through its pool of resource persons and trainers.
It also publishes and distributes gender-related
communications materials, and provides support
and tools for development programmes on gender
and development. In addition, it integrates gender
equality into existing R&D programmes and projects
Mainstreaming gender equality into national policies and
Rwanda has incorporated gender equality into many
of its national policies and strategies, including its
ICT policy. The Rwanda Vision 2020 seeks to achieve
the transition from an agriculture-based economy
to a knowledge-based economy in 20 years. The
goal to provide wider access and connectivity to
all envisages a mix of access strategies, including
the provision of telecentres and information kiosks,
encouraging ICT access at home, and using various
media such as radio, television and newspapers to
promote the use of ICTs. Gender equality provisions
have been integrated into ICT access, training and
implementation strategies (Bayingana, 2007).
The incorporation of gender in the Economic
Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy in
Rwanda has influenced other national policies and
development frameworks. A gender mainstreaming
checklist developed by the gender oversight group
is a first step towards defining critical programmes
and activities in budget allocations. The lessons learnt
from this process have been transferred to the initial
United Nations Development Assistance Framework
prioritization process in Rwanda, and has attracted
non-traditional partners such as the Ministry of
Finance, the Rwanda Defence Force and the Supreme
Court (UN-HABITAT, 2008).
Gender budgeting is one of the strategies within the
Rwanda national gender policy that aims at promoting
gender equality in the allocation of resources. With
the support of the United Nations Development
Fund for Women (UNIFEM, now merged into UN
Women), women members of parliament have been
trained in gender-responsive budgets, and are able
to identify priority areas, including capacity-building,
development of advocacy tools, creation of a gender-
disaggregated monitoring and evaluation system, and
collaboration with key partners. As a result, they are
now applying the acquired skills, especially to budget
analysis and approval. Allocating the necessary
budget for women’s priority areas, such as capacity-
building in STI, can help advance the role of women
Rwanda is unique in that women comprise over 50
per cent of its parliament and they hold positions at all
levels of government. Through a quota and balloting
system in which women’s councils and women-only
elections play a major part, the election of a certain
253. STI pOlIcy uSINg a geNder leNS
percentage of women is guaranteed at all levels,
thereby providing more women with the opportunity
and experience to run for office. A minimum quota
also ensures a more balanced gender perspective
in governance. Ten women’s councils include
representatives from legal affairs, civic education,
health and finance. They also play an advocacy role.
In addition to skills training and working with local
women, they advise other elected bodies on issues
that affect women, thereby ensuring that women’s
views on education, health and security are brought
before elected bodies at different levels (UN-HABITAT,
3.6.2 Regional initiatives
National policy achievements, such as those
mentioned above, have been influenced in part by
regional organizations, initiatives, consensus and
policies relating to gender equality and women.
Regional agreements to promote gender equality,
regardless of enforcement levels, can exert a strong
influence on cooperating countries to examine
their existing policies and introduce new policies to
promote gender and STI in a range of sectors.
A number of regional initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa
have provided a framework and catalyst for countries
such as Rwanda to mainstream gender into policies
in key development sectors and in S&T. The following
are some examples:
• The African Union (AU) adopted a protocol
entitled the Rights of Women in Africa in its African
Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The AU’s
Women, Gender and Development Directorate
supports gender mainstreaming, coordination,
advocacy, policy formulation, performance
tracking, monitoring and evaluation, training and
capacity-building, research, communication,
networking and liaison (UN-Habitat, 2008);
• The Gender, Civil Society and Parliamentary
Affairs Unit of the New Partnership for Africa’s
Development (NEPAD) runs the Spanish Fund
for African Women’s Empowerment. The Fund
provides countries with financial resources for
programmes to support women in economic
development, in fighting poverty and in
contributing to achieving the MDGs. The kinds
of projects funded include those dealing with
SME development, microcredit, agro-processing,
vocational skills training and agriculture.
• The Gender and Social Development Programme
of the United Nations Economic Commission
for Africa has developed the Africa Gender
Development Index (AGDI), which includes
indicators on informal employment and access
to technology. Its S&T and ICT programmes
also promote gender issues, particularly in
data collection, and they recently organized a
conference on Gender and Innovation in Africa
(Nega, 2008; UNECA, 2004 and 2008).
• The East African Community has established a
Regional Gender and Community Development
Strategy and Programme. It also seeks to address
gender equality concerns in its ICT policy (UN-
• The Southern African Development Community
(SADC) organized a meeting of ministers
responsible for science, technology and innovation
in 2008, which mandated the establishment of a
Women in Science, Engineering and Technology
platform for the region. It aims to: promote
networks and forums of African women in S&T at
national, regional and continental levels, increase
women’s participation in S&T by 10 per cent, raise
awareness among women of the value of S&T for
their daily lives, and advocates for the inclusion of
more women in S&T decision- and policy- making
Regional initiatives to promote gender mainstreaming
in S&T can be effective in raising awareness across
a wide number of countries. The European Union
(EU) has recognized the need to encourage gender
equality in its member States. In 2008, the European
Parliament adopted a report calling for greater
efforts to address the under-representation of
women in science. Accordingly, the target of female
representation was raised to 25 per cent in evaluation
panels, selection and other committees, and to 40
per cent in nominated panels and committees. This
is a non-binding target, but it is crucial in raising
awareness of the need for gender parity. The report
also calls for universities, research institutions and
private businesses to adopt and enforce equality
strategies and conduct gender impact evaluations in
decision-making processes (European Parliament,
The European Commission Strategy for equality
between women and men (2010–2015) commits
the Commission to promoting gender equality in all
26 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
policies. The strategy highlights the connections
between gender equality, economic growth and
sustainable development, and supports the integration
of gender equality dimensions in the Europe 2020
Strategy. Its thematic priorities are:
• Equal economic independence for women and men;
• Equal pay for work of equal value;
• Equality in decision-making;
• Dignity, integrity and ending gender violence;
• Promoting gender equality beyond the EU; and
• Horizontal issues (gender roles, legislation and
The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the
European Commission, the EU’s main research-
funding body, incorporates a gender mainstreaming
strategy. It requires all funded programmes to ensure
a 40 per cent participation level of women, and a 50
per cent participation level is recommended. The
Framework supports the development of toolkits
and guidelines on gender dimensions of science
research.20 Experts can be sought to provide advice on
gender equality in programme areas. It recommends
that universities and research institutions cooperate
and implement the “best systemic organizational
approaches” to increase the involvement and
career acceleration of women researchers. They are
also encouraged to exchange information on best
practices and create action plans for structural changes,
tackle specific organizational blockage points, and
increase the diversity of their faculty. The following are
some examples of programmes supported:
• Analysis of successful recruitment, promotion
and retention policies;
• Gender- and diversity-appropriate management
and research assessment standards;
• Course development in terms of content and
presentation of women;
• Strategies to promote leadership development of
women in science institutions;
• Institutional policies to support and encourage
dual career couples; and
• Re-entry strategies for women, to encourage their
return to professional life after career breaks.21
Additionally, the European Commission encourages
the collection of gender-disaggregated data by
member States, and has established the Helsinki
Group to develop and promote gender-related
indicators on human resources. The systematic
introduction of gender in regular statistical
measurements of R&D and S&T activities is also a
strong focus. One result is “She Figures” (EC, 2009), a
regular publication of data on women’s representation
in science, engineering and technology research in
the EU member States.
Two major policy initiatives in this region that focus
on gender, knowledge, science and technology and
sustainable development are the APEC Women
Leaders’ Network (WLN) and the Asia-Pacific Gender
Equity in Science and Technology (APGEST) initiative.
APEC WLN is a network of women leaders from the
Box 16: Recommendations of the 14th Women Leaders’ Network meeting
At its annual meeting on 4-5 August 2009, the Women Leaders’ Network, comprising women leaders of the Asia-Pacific
region, adopted the following policy recommendations to promote greater participation of women in STI:
1. Strengthen capacity-building programmes, including education and vocational skills training for women.
2. Promote employment generation programmes to enhance women’s position, particularly those in informal and
3. Ensure access to financing, especially for micro and small enterprises.
4. Secure social safety nets for women.
5. Simplify business registration and operational processes.
6. Promote the use of S&T as an enabler and leveller for women.
7. Facilitate access to ICTs, especially for rural and indigenous women, through the provision of services, equipment
and technological literacy training.
8. Encourage public-private partnerships, including with civil society, as a viable approach to furthering the contributions
of women to the economy.
9. Support social enterprise as a business model for women and for sustainable development.
10. Recognize the economic and social value of supporting, investing and promoting programmes and measures
relating to environmental issues, such as climate change, and work-life initiatives, such as childcare and caregiver
Source: APEC Women Leaders’ Network, 2009.
274. apprOacheS fOr applyINg The geNder leNS IN STI
public and private sectors, academia, civil society, as
well as indigenous women, rural women and women in
technology, which provides policy recommendations
to officials of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
forum (APEC). The network organizes annual forums
for women leaders from member countries to meet
and discuss issues of common concern. In its August
2009 meeting, over 600 women delegates from 21
APEC economies discussed issues relating to women
and sustainable development, including women in
business, the knowledge economy, work-life harmony
and social enterprise (Box 16).22
Launched in 2000, APGEST undertook a review
of policy and institutional reforms, programmes,
projects, institutions and networks with the aim of
addressing the issue of gender in science, engineering
and technology related to human development and
poverty alleviation. This included an analysis of gender
mainstreaming and integration of gender issues in
S&T and related policies in selected countries, as well
as a review and assessment of best practices in the
use of S&T to support grassroots initiatives and rural
women (RESGEST, 2004; APGEST, 2002).
3.7 Scaling up successful projects and programmes
A challenge for policy and programmes is
the replication of successful small-scale projects on
a wider scale. Scaling up does not happen quickly,
easily or through projects alone. In addition to
investment of resources, scaling up requires specific
skills, an institutional structure, organizational capacity
and communication/dissemination. It may require a
different kind of research and analysis which builds
on a process of trial and error. Ongoing assessment
and monitoring is required to identify and analyse
problems, gaps, blockages and success factors, as
well as innovative capacity to develop solutions. The
process is iterative (i.e. results of the assessment
and monitoring are fed back into planning and
Capacity and skills development of project
managers, partnership development, multi-
stakeholder connections and collaborations, and
continuous learning are key to scaling up projects.
Implementation of policies and programmes rests
upon a set of institutional support mechanisms for
management, dissemination, capacity development
at individual and organizational levels, and monitoring.
Approaches to applying the gender lens on a larger
scale are discussed in Chapter 4.
4. Approaches for applying the gender
lens in STI
This chapter presents examples of effective and
sustainable STI programmes that benefit women as
well as men. The examples highlight the need for
capacity-development, institution building and multi-
stakeholder partnerships in the following three areas:
1) Science for women: supporting women’s
technological choices and uses to encourage
their empowerment and development activities;
2) Women in science: promoting the participation of
women and girls in STI education and training;
3) Women in innovation: promoting women’s
participation in innovation systems and
recognizing women’s innovations.
Several key questions are:
• What supporting institutional structures are
needed for effective STI policy implementation,
and what are the approaches that will facilitate the
application of a gender lens, ensuring that both
women and men benefit?
• What effective partnerships can be forged to
ensure consultation with women and local
• What strategies are needed to choose, implement
and develop successful models for eventual
• Which approaches to technology development
could benefit both women and men?
• How can capacity development of beneficiaries
provide tools for sustainability after the initial
intervention has ended?
4.1.1 Capacity development for applying a gender
lens to STI for development
Capacity development can be defined as “the
process by which individuals, organizations,
institutions and societies develop abilities (individually
and collectively) to perform functions, solve problems
and set and achieve objectives” (UNDP, 2005). It
is a useful approach for applying the gender lens
in STI. Sen and Drèze (2002) add to the notion of
capacity the concept of opportunity. Gender equality
and empowerment comprise both these concepts:
skills gained through education are insufficient if
equal opportunity to exercise these skills is lacking.
Capacity development can also be viewed as a
continuous learning and changing process, with an
emphasis on more effective use and empowerment
28 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
of individuals and organizations. It requires three
interrelated levels of change: (i) at the level of the
individual, including human skills, knowledge and
attitudinal development, (ii) through interrelationships
among organizations, networks and sectors, and (iii)
systemically throughout institutional and governance
structures (UNDP, 2005).
In the area of STI, capacity development of individuals
and institutions through the acquisition and application
of knowledge is both a challenge and an opportunity,
and a prerequisite for the application of STI solutions
to development (David and Foray, 2003). It also
requires individuals who are educated in S&T, and are
able to analyse and develop innovative responses to
Developing capacity to promote science for women
requires improving the rate at which technology is
acquired and used through partnering research and
extension workers with institutions and promoting
participatory approaches to understand how science
can be applied to meet women’s specific needs.
Capacity development for women in science can be
promoted by building their knowledge through S&T
education and training, and through R&D institutions.
S&T institutions are key “transmission mechanisms”
that are largely responsible for linking and
disseminating the “global stock of knowledge” and
skills among individuals, communities and enterprises
(World Bank, 2007). This capacity development for
women in science can be facilitated by increasing
the participation of women in public and private R&D
institutions as well as by promoting equal access to
educational institutions (primary to tertiary levels),
vocational/technical training institutions, and informal
training programmes and organizations.
Access to the knowledge stock can facilitate capacity
development of women in innovation at the individual,
community and enterprise level, not only as users but
also as creators of new knowledge and technologies.
Activities can range from promoting women’s
participation in solving local livelihood problems,
such as developing more efficient cooking stoves,
to supporting women in advanced STI sectors, such
as establishing a “biotech park” incubator to support
biotechnology-based entrepreneurship of women.
Women’s participation in innovation as users and
creators of knowledge and technologies will be
limited if greater efforts are not made to support them.
Globally, women are underrepresented in tertiary STI
education, research and industry (Chapter 2). This
lack of a gender balance in STI has implications
for how policy and programmes are designed and
implemented at the local level. Therefore the gender
lens needs to be integrated into STI policies in order
to: (a) encourage and support women and other
groups that have been traditionally excluded from S&T
to realize their full potential; (b) promote consultation
with women concerning their technology needs and
choices, and work with them to gain the knowledge,
skills and resources to manage technology for their
own purposes; and (c) support the ability of women
to participate actively in innovation systems – small,
medium and large – and in key sectors, including
agriculture, water, energy and transport (Chapter 2).
For example, as discussed in Chapter 2, since women
are the primary producers of food in many countries,
it is imperative that they understand how to operate
their farms in an efficient and productive manner.
Box 17: Agricultural knowledge, science and technology (AKST)
Investment in human resources is crucial for developing a productive and sustainable agricultural sector. Women’s
marginalization in the AKST system and their numerous household responsibilities prevent them from being more
effective. Use and understanding of new technologies is greatly enhanced by higher literacy and education levels, but at
present literacy levels of girls and women are low. Education must therefore be made a priority.
Knowledge of improved farming techniques is vital to families, as it enables them to increase productivity without depleting
or eroding the soil. Soil erosion over time decreases the nutritional quality of food, yet nutritional quality is important for
communities suffering from malnutrition and disease, as in many sub-Saharan African countries. A good understanding
of the nutritional value of food is important so that appropriate crops can be grown. Also important is knowledge of
irrigation systems, in order to enhance productivity and prevent land degradation, including desertification, soil erosion
and water pollution, which threaten sustainable livelihoods.
Applying the gender lens in AKST would require educating women on the value of managing these resources in a
sustainable manner. Agricultural extension workers can play a key role in this area, by adopting and diffusing AKST.
Source: Wakhungu, 2010.
294. apprOacheS fOr applyINg The geNder leNS IN STI
In this regard, agricultural knowledge, science and
technology (AKST) can enhance the contribution
of women to agriculture (Box 17). However, their
marginalization in formal AKST systems compromises
their potential to do so (IAC, 2004; Huyer and Hafkin,
2007; Wakhungu, 2010).
4.2 Capacity development for technology choice: STI
Capacity development requires institutional
support mechanisms at the local level. Supporting
organizations at the local level can be effective in
helping to increase the capabilities of women and men,
and in encouraging the development of technologies
that will increase the capabilities of women and men
to exercise choice and voice.
In order for women to fully benefit from STI, they
must be able to access resources and knowledge.
Technology dissemination is central to introducing
S&T in agriculture, for example. However, as noted
earlier, the formal system tends to provide information
on a limited number of technologies in a top-
down approach, with public or private institutions
disseminating information via formal channels that are
often less, if at all, accessible to women. As a result, it
reaches fewer farmers.
Women are often bypassed in the formal dissemination
system for a number of reasons: they are
predominantly smallholder farmers who tend to adopt
low-input, low-output, rain-fed farming, they have
fewer resources to invest in formal technologies, and
they have multiple uses for a plot of land. The needs
of women farmers are overlooked, as a result of which
they continue to use traditional, labour-intensive, time-
and energy-consuming technologies. Community-
driven approaches to technology development can
help women and smallholder farmers benefit through
improved crop diversification and new farming
technologies that reduce unproductive time and
increase yields (Wakhungu, 2010; Carr and Hartl,
STI for women includes developing and applying
technologies to support women’s needs and
activities. Five improved technologies are seen as
urgently required to support women’s livelihoods and
household activities (UNDAW, 2010):
• Improved clean cooking technologies;
• Improved food processing, preservation and
• Improved clean energy access, through
renewable energy technologies;
• Technologies that enable improved access to
sanitation, waste management and clean and
potable water; and
• Improved home designs.
Some of the technologies and techniques that
can address these priorities and reduce the time
and effort expended by women and girls in their
daily tasks include: improved stoves; rainwater
harvesting techniques and intermediate transport
devices that reduce the time spent on collection of
fuelwood and water; improved hoes, planters and
grinding mills to increase productivity and reduce
energy costs; improved farming techniques, such as
conservation agriculture, to reduce the time spent on
labour-intensive tasks such as weeding; and food-
processing technologies, such as cassava graters
and oil-seed presses, which will increase women’s
incomes with less time and energy expended (Carr
and Hartl, 2010).
4.2.1 Supporting STI for women through research and
Research and extension services can improve the rate
of technology adoption, for instance by increasing the
number of women extension workers. Currently in sub-
Saharan Africa, only about 17 per cent of extension
workers are women, and in some areas, cultural norms
prevent women from speaking to male extension workers,
which results in women farmers often being bypassed.
In addition to encouraging more women extension
workers, training of these workers should be expanded
to allow them to provide advice on various crop, animal
and agricultural alternatives, and to better adjust to
the needs of those who run small-scale diversified
farms. By providing extension workers with training-
of-trainer and community development skills, they
can gain a better understanding of how to encourage
farmer participation and undertake consultation
with female farmers. They should also understand
technology needs assessment approaches and
how to develop strategies to meet such needs. Box
18 provides an example of the issues and barriers
identified in a gender analysis of access and benefits
in a farmer innovation project, while Box 19 explains
how extension methods and approaches can make a
significant difference in terms of who is reached.
In Tunisia, the Indigenous Soil and Water Conservation
(ISWC) project, established to raise farmers’
awareness of innovations, succeeded in involving
30 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
Box 19: Importance of approaches and methods
The choice of advisory methods and approaches may have a significant impact on who can access extension services. In
Benin, for instance, the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) discovered that in traditional extension methods and where village
leaders served as intermediaries, women did not have full access to extension services. However, when farmer-to-farmer
videos were used to disseminate information, all members of the public could freely observe and comment on the videos,
suggesting that traditional communication channels were not the only way to reach farmers.
Source: Christoplos, 2010.
Box 18: Promoting farmer innovation in Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda
Programmes aimed at improving agricultural practices may not benefit women if special measures are not taken.
For instance, a project promoting farmer innovation was established in 1997 to encourage indigenous soil and water
conservation and other natural resource management practices in Kenya, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.
Early on in the programme, due to problems in identifying women innovators, a gender analysis was initiated to determine
the roles of women and men in the rural economies in the focal areas, and to recommend how the programme could be
made more sensitive to gender issues.
The analysis found that while both women and men were involved in agriculture, and both played an important role in
land management, decisions about these two activities were primarily made by the men. Furthermore, under traditional
divisions of labour, women and girls had a much heavier workload than men and boys, because they had additional
family responsibilities. It was also observed that the women’s contributions to land husbandry were not fully recognized
by either the men farmers or the (primarily male) extension staff. This may be one reason why women were being
overlooked when farmer innovators were identified.
Based on these findings, the following recommendations were made to incorporate greater gender equality:
• Identify and promote innovations relevant to women, such as labour- and time-saving innovations that can lighten
• Create gender awareness in the community; create awareness among men regarding women’s contributions to
• Target women for training; work with women’s groups to strengthen women’s capacity.
• Increase the number of women farmer innovators; help women farmer innovators to disseminate their innovations;
build women’s confidence through training and participation in innovator groups;
• Conduct gender sensitization workshops for staff of partner organizations.
• Identify and work with women-headed households to support women as innovators and adopters;
• Identify women contact persons in the communities.
• Seek gender-sensitive partners, where possible.
Source: Wakhungu, 2010.
women farmers by including women extension
workers. Initially, training sessions had been held with
an all-male group of regional staff members from the
Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Soil
and Water Conservation to identify farmer innovators.
As a result, the majority of the innovators identified
were men. In order to identify women innovators,
the ISWC trained 15 women to document women’s
farming practices and methods of food production.
The extension agents were able to work closely with
women farmers and managed to identify 31 women
innovators within two months. These innovators may
not have been identified if only male researchers had
been deployed, due to discomfort or social norms that
could prevent clear and direct communication with
women (Nasr, Chahbani and Kamel, 2001).
4.2.2 Participatory research approaches
Participatory approaches to development initiatives
in communities provide an insight into access,
opportunities, priorities and choices among women
and men in a range of social groupings. Applying
a gender lens by integrating gender concerns and
taking steps to understand gender patterns of use
and access are critical for promoting STI for women.
Why use gender-based participatory approaches?
In many regions, water, watersheds, forests and
other commonly pooled resources are managed
by groups of users. Studies show that adopting a
gender-sensitive analysis of access to, use of and
leadership within such initiatives will help to increase
effectiveness, sustainability and social cohesion.
314. apprOacheS fOr applyINg The geNder leNS IN STI
For example, where women’s participation in user
groups is low, they can be disenfranchised from use
of water and irrigation services. A review of water
user associations (WUAs) in South Asia, for instance,
found that women’s participation tends to be minimal,
partly because women generally are not part of the
formal and informal water management networks
in communities. Furthermore, participants in WUAs
are required to invest time and money, which could
be a barrier for women as they tend to have less of
both compared with men. Other, less secure forms of
access to irrigation services may be more accessible
to women. The review found that more formal
participation of women in WUAs can strengthen
their bargaining position within households and
communities as well as the effectiveness of WUAs
as it increases compliance rates and maintenance
contributions (Meinzen-Dick and Zwarteveen, 1998).
Similarly, exclusion of women from community forest
management groups reduces the success of these
groups, and may exacerbate gender asymmetries in
power relations within the community. For example,
women have little influence over decision-making in
India’s community forest management groups. There
are some designated areas from where they are
not allowed to collect fuelwood, which often means
that they have to go further away from home for this
purpose. In one area, women violated rules prohibiting
fuelwood collection in designated areas due to the
inconvenience of travelling further afield to collect it
(Agarwal, 2001; see also Pandolfelli, Meinzen-Dick
and Dohrn 2008; Meinzen-Dick et al., 2010).
Conversely, an outcome study of 33 rural
programmes in natural resource management in 20
countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America found
that collaboration, solidarity and conflict resolution
increased among all participants of the programmes
when women were included. Another study of 104
farmer cooperative institutions in Paraguay found
that levels of cooperation increased with the rise in
women’s participation (Meinzen-Dick et al., 2010).
When participatory approaches are gender-sensitive,
women are likely to feel more enfranchised and
may have fewer difficulties in accessing community
resources than they did prior to implementing an
initiative that does not involve them in its participatory
approach. Ensuring that women are involved in
participatory initiatives and have a say in their direction
will increase the capability and levels of cooperation
within a community.
Involving women in participatory rural appraisal
The examples also show the importance of integrating
a gender-differentiated analysis of trends and
priorities relating to resources, opportunities and
responsibilities into any community or participatory-
Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) is a research and
action process whereby the local community plays
a management and decision-making role. It is used
in agricultural planning and other rural development
initiatives, and involves communities in generating
information, conducting analysis and setting priorities.
The intention is for the PRA to be client (farmer)-
oriented, enabling farmers to feel that the researcher
has a genuine interest in their concerns and priorities.
The aim is to:
• Empower the farmer to direct the research and
the implementation of solutions;
• Systematize local input and involve all social
groupings in a community;
• Take an iterative and exploratory approach which
assesses all possibilities and situations;
• Include training and capacity-building to enable
farmers to rationalize and evaluate products;
• Focus on the priority needs of and issues facing a
• As a result of the above, be sustainable, i.e. ensure
that the impact will endure after the researchers
have left (Ibrahim and Olaloku, 2000).
Gender considerations need to be an integral part of
the review of all agricultural projects and participatory
planning approaches (FAO, 1997). Disaggregating
communities by gender and other social groupings
will help planners and communities to understand and
make allowances for differences in access to, use of
and control over resources. Gender analysis – the
gender lens – in PRA will ensure that a community-
level intervention is successful and sustainable in
human, economic and ecological terms. Participatory
methods informed by gender analysis also provide
two types of relevant information for policy and
• Information on women’s priorities and
support needs, which can inform line agency
• Information on issues that need to be tackled
at higher policy levels, such as women’s lack
of secure land rights, their workload and limited
32 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
Despite the demonstrated importance of integrating
gender analysis into PRAs, this approach is still not
widely used, as found by a recent review of agricultural
R&D approaches undertaken by the Consultative
Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
network (Alvarez et al., 2010).
A gender-based approach to participatory
development, incorporating inputs from both women
and men farmers, is demonstrated in the approach
to the development of New Rice for Africa (NERICA)
strains by the West Africa Rice Development Agency
(WARDA). A local farmer’s field was planted with 60
rice varieties, including new strains developed at
WARDA, local strains, hybrids and others. Men and
women farmers were encouraged to visit the rice
garden informally to assess the varieties in terms
of growth rates, yields, weed smothering and pest
resistance. The farmers were interviewed separately
to ascertain their preferences and assessments of
the different strains according to a range of criteria
used by both women and men (i.e. cooking time,
ease of de-hulling, palatability, as well as height and
plant yield, among others). WARDA also supports
community seed production by teaching farmers
how to produce better seeds for their own use, and
exchange or sell excess seeds to other farmers. This
approach builds on existing seed production practices
in the area without requiring new extension systems
to be established, and provides desirable strains at
prices that are more affordable to smallholder farmers
4.2.3 Partnerships to incorporate a gender lens in STI
Partnerships in STI implementation are an effective
means to diffuse innovations and knowledge among
community members and implementing partners and
enable diverse members of innovative systems to
generate and diffuse innovations on a sustainable basis.
Box 20: Participatory experiment for improving soil fertility management
In Southern Africa, management of soil fertility in semi-arid regions was improved as a result of participatory research
that involved partnering with women farmers. A project led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid
Tropics involving women farmers sought to develop methodologies to link farmer-led participatory research with systems
modelling to improve the conditions of women farmers. The objectives of the project were to:
• Better understand the crop management investment options and risks for primarily poor, women-headed households
in drought-prone areas;
• Improve the ability of crop scientists, NGO workers and extension officers to support crop management
experimentation by women farmers;
• Define management options for poor, women-headed households; and
• Provide guidelines for integrating farmers’ assessments of technology options into national-level research and
Capacity-building of farmers, researchers, partners and institutions was also an explicit goal of the project.
The project aimed to overcome the problem of the continued disregard for farmers’ real needs and priorities, particularly
those of poor women farmers, and attempted to understand why household yields consistently failed to reach the yields
researchers obtained in field trials.
The project’s main innovation was the “mother and baby trial” – a participatory partnership approach based on
interaction between scientists and women farmers.a The approach combined technology assessment by farmers with
a biological assessment of technological performance in the field. This process built trust, dialogue and exchange
between researchers and farmers, exposed the farmers to new technologies and practices and provided more in-depth
information than traditional field-trial-based research. Refined through subsequent experiments in Malawi and Zimbabwe,
it has become a popular and successful participatory approach (Smith and Chataway, 2009).
One of the important lessons from this research is that “it is essential to make technological innovation participatory for
it to have any place in peoples’ fields.”
Source: Smith and Chataway, 2009.
a In the first stage, the on-site “mother trial” tests a set of hypotheses regarding various technologies. It is managed
and monitored by the researcher. In the second stage, the farmer takes on a series of sub-experiments, using farm
resources. This process allows an analysis of the appropriateness of any given technology from the perspectives of
both the farmer and the researcher. Researchers advise on technological management and monitor progress, allowing
detailed evaluation of crop response via the mother trial, and systematic evaluation by the farmers, of particular
combinations of variables through the baby trials.
334. apprOacheS fOr applyINg The geNder leNS IN STI
Partnerships between local governing bodies and
women’s community development organizations
can constitute an important entry point for women’s
inputs and decision-making in local technology and
innovation activities. In agriculture, for instance,
partnerships between farmers, civil society, national
and international agencies, and donors can act as
vehicles for enabling participatory farmer approaches
to be combined with technology development and
innovation. Such partnerships can be successful
in encouraging farmers to express their needs.
Furthermore, these partnerships can be effective
in delivering technologies and promoting the
development of innovative methodologies to farmers
groups, which helps build capacities, trust as well
as networks for supporting grassroots innovation.
Partnerships may also produce other unforeseen
outcomes, such as providing insight into institutional
innovation, developing international public goods and
helping consultative group centres to adopt innovation
systems approaches (Smith and Chataway, 2009).
One example of a partnership with women farmers
was an initiative implemented from 1999 to 2002
entitled, “Will women farmers invest in improving
their soil fertility management? Participatory
experimentation in a risky environment”. The project
focused on improving management of soil fertility in
semi-arid regions through participatory research that
involved women farmers in Southern Africa (Smith
and Chataway, 2009). The project, funded by the
Department for International Development (DFID) of
the United Kingdom, sought to test technologies and
soil management approaches. The broader aim was
to show the success of such an approach so that it
would be applied by national agricultural research
systems and various other organizations (Box 20).
Partnerships help governments and agencies to
develop sustainable local initiatives. They also provide
local NGOs with access to knowledge and skills,
innovative and proven methodologies, networking
and funding opportunities, replicable models for
addressing community needs and managing
resources, options for organizational management
and governance, and strategies for advocacy,
government relations and public outreach. These are
especially important for women’s organizations which
generally have less access to these kinds of financial,
educational and capacity development initiatives. As
discussed above, such partnerships are especially
important for promoting women’s STI capacities and
supporting organizations which work to provide the
basic conditions for women’s empowerment and
increased gender equality in a community.
4.2.4 Scientists working with women
Scientists can work with women at the grassroots
level to provide and refine S&T solutions in farming,
health, livelihoods and other productive activities.
For instance, the Scientific Association for Egyptian
Women builds capabilities of women scientists and
rural and urban women in the development and
adaptation of S&T and ICT for poverty reduction. The
Association was instrumental in introducing locally
made solar water heaters, solar cookers, refrigerators
and solar dryers into urban communities (Hassan,
There are many examples of scientists – both men
and women – helping women improve and address
development problems and challenges through
S&T. But more women need to enter the system as
scientists, technologists and development extension
workers, and more scientists need to understand
how their skills and work can benefit women at the
grassroots level in developing countries (AAAS, 2000),
as discussed in the next section.
4.3 Capacity development for women’s participation
in STI education and careers: women in STI
Education and training systems are the first steps
to equipping people with the knowledge and skills
to improve their lives and participate in national STI
systems. As mentioned in Chapters 1 and 2, there
are clear gender disparities in different educational
contexts and at all levels of national education
systems, both formal and informal. Such disparities
affect the potential for national capacity development.
For example, empirical evidence has shown that
when women are educated, nutrition and child
mortality rates improve and the number of children
per family declines, while a lower education level of
men in Jamaica and of African American men in the
United States are associated with higher levels of
incarceration and violence.
4.3.1 Tertiary level education for a knowledge-based
As discussed in Chapter 2, the proportion of women in
tertiary level education has been increasing, but men
continue to make up the majority of those studying
science-related subjects. Thus greater efforts are
needed to encourage women to study S&T. Some
34 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
universities have taken active steps to understand the
reasons for the low enrolment and retention rates of
women in their computer science programmes and
are trying to redress this imbalance. Some, such as
the Open University in the United Kingdom, find that
costs, lack of confidence in their ability to “handle” the
courses, and the burden of family commitments deter
women from opting for technology-related subjects.
The University has therefore introduced a bridging
and conversion programme as part of its computer
education programmes, including the provision
of courses designed for “beginners” in computer
sciences. Others have initiated open access policies
in their technology and computer science courses,
while some have waived certain prerequisites for such
courses with a view to encouraging women to join.
It has been observed that many teachers at secondary
and tertiary levels have steered girls and women away
from technology, or failed to present S&T courses in
a manner that would appeal to young women. Steps
taken to alter this situation have included:
• Changes in the curriculum that place technology
in a wider, real-world context;
• Pedagogical approaches which stress skills
development and reflective practice;
• The teaching of technological ideas and concepts
in a broader historical and social context;
• Encouraging peer networking and support among
girl/women students; and
• Engaging in outreach programmes with high
schools (Bissell et al., 2003; Margolis and Fisher,
4.3.2 Continuing education, technical training and the role
Lifelong learning and vocational educational strategies
are important to women and men who need access
to additional skills and training outside the formal
education system. These options allow students to
overcome the disadvantages of lower educational
and literacy levels, and to gain skills and knowledge
that are specific to their goals and livelihoods. This
is important because women in general, and men at
lower income levels, tend to hold low or unskilled jobs
and do not have access to the technical and skills
training which would facilitate technical and cognitive
employment in higher skill/higher paid professions.
Various strategies can be implemented to support
ongoing and lifelong training, such as providing
basic literacy training, promoting formal and informal
education, ongoing workplace upgrading, and targeted
skills training programmes for women and girls.
Special support mechanisms are often needed for
women and girls in all stages of skills education
and training. For instance, the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) established the
Global Network of Women in ICT programme to
encourage girls to opt for technology careers by
providing resources for mentoring, and high profile role
models, and by offering toolkits to governments and
organizations to run national “Girls in ICT” days which
showcase careers in ICTs and technology for girls
(ITU, 2011). Other support mechanisms to promote
girls and women include S&T apprenticeships, and
workplace training and retraining for them when
they re-enter work. Greater attention to barriers,
such as difficulties in balancing work and family
responsibilities, discrimination and harassment,
should be incorporated into training and programmes
aimed at benefiting women (ILO, 2007).
Technology itself can facilitate education and training
of groups at all income levels and in both rural and
urban settings. ICTs can be a means for women
and girls to overcome educational barriers and they
provide avenues for training and knowledge. In
particular, e-learning23 (i.e. computer- and Internet-
mediated learning) has been shown to be a useful
educational strategy for women in the formal
education system. Research shows that there
are clear gender differences in online educational
activities: in many developed countries, more women
than men enrol in e-learning, and in some developing
countries there is some indication that more women
enrol in online education than in traditional courses.
It has been observed that online courses are a
comfortable learning medium for girl/women students
who may particularly appreciate the privacy of virtual
courses. For instance, ICT-based lectures at the FH
Joanneum in Austria found that women students
experienced less pressure concerning their inputs
and less fear of appearing to be “ignorant” in front
of male students (Gfrerer and Pauschenwein, 2002).
The Open University in the United Kingdom found that
women students often used computer conferencing
for contact with other students, course directors and
tutors, and may feel better supported in an online
teaching environment (Bissell et al, 2003). Other
studies indicate that the anonymity and social distance
provided by the Internet seem to encourage women to
participate in online courses (Im and Lee, 2003).
354. apprOacheS fOr applyINg The geNder leNS IN STI
Additionally, flexibility of access and study hours
provided by ICTs, and their potential to reach women
in rural areas can make this a very successful
educational strategy for women (Kramarae, 2001;
Maroba, 2003). The cost of online courses tends
to be more affordable than that of face-to-face
courses, with their related expenses such as travel
and boarding. Interestingly, a study in Barbados
indicates that participation in distance learning can
inspire women to become more interested in and
feel more confident about enrolling in S&T courses
(Commonwealth of Learning, 1999). In addition to
affordability and confidence factors, online learning
provides a platform for knowledge-sharing and
capacity-building between developed and developing
countries. Reputable educational institutions in
developed countries can offer courses and diplomas
to students in developing countries, particularly in STI
in which there is a wider knowledge gap. “Borderless”
learning can benefit women particularly in regions that
have limited know-how in STI, in conflict areas, and
in areas where women are marginalized or excluded
from traditional learning systems (Box 21).
The example from Afghanistan shows how external
institutions have partnered with the local community
to help build women’s capabilities in S&T as well
as to develop local educational institutions (both
formal and informal) by using ICT as a means of
disseminating information and knowledge, and
building skills. Widespread application of such
projects is still limited in many developing countries,
particularly in Africa, due to low computer and Internet
penetration rates. Only 23 per cent of the population
in developing countries have computers and 16 per
cent have Internet access, compared with computer
access of 71 per cent and Internet access of 66 per
cent in developed countries (ITU, 2010). In terms of
Internet usage, the gender disparity is around 10
percentage points for both developed and developing
countries (ITU, 2011). Apart from the lack of ICT
facilities, inadequate user skills of both teachers and
students are barriers to the effective implementation
of e-learning courses and e-learning centres (Nguyen,
2010). There are other barriers specific to women in
developing countries which limit their access to ICTs,
such as travel restrictions outside the home, operating
hours of ICT community facilities, lower literacy rates,
negative stereotypes about women’s technology
skills, as well as costs of ICT access and training
It is clear that men and women have not gained
equal access to ICT education and training
programmes (ITU, 2011). To rectify this, policymakers
and programme coordinators need to consider
women’s needs and constraints when designing and
implementing ICT access strategies and programmes.
Box 21: Collaborative efforts to promote online learning in developing countries
Education partnerships between developed and developing countries can make a valuable contribution to capacity
development in regions where women have limited access to education. The Afghan-Canadian Community Center
(ACCC), a charity established by the Canadian International Learning Foundation (CanILF), offers post-secondary
courses to women in Afghanistan at no cost. Men can also enrol in the courses but are charged a small fee to fund
the cost of the women’s programme. Partnering with two Canadian higher education institutions – the Southern Alberta
Institute of Technology (SAIT) and the Canada e-School – ACCC is an example of a successful collaborative effort.
The programme offers courses in business management, information technology, English and health. Teachers interact
with students using communication tools such as Skype, and Voice-over-IP (VoIP), which facilitate knowledge exchange
across borders and cultures. Other communication tools used in the courses include electronic messengers, chat rooms,
mail groups and the Afghan School Project website forum. The online platforms promote discussions, help improve
writing skills, and initiate peer interaction and knowledge-sharing of Afghan and world issues. The programme extends
beyond enrolled students to women in the community, who also have free access to the computer and Internet facilities.
Over 120 women visit the computer laboratories on a daily basis, which gives them access to local and global information
Since the programme began in 2007, a visible impact has been observed: over 500 students were employed or promoted
as a result of the programme, and their wages were sufficient to support seven immediate or extended family members.
Obtaining employment not only enhances the individual well-being of women and their families, it also contributes to
overall STI development in Afghan society. Such collaborative models do not require vast capital expenditures and can
be applied in various developing countries, even those in conflict zones.
Source: CanILF, 2011 and Afghan-Canadian Community Center, 2011.
36 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
Governments can help overcome these barriers by
offering subsidies, tax incentives and support for ICT
infrastructure development to promote public ICT
centres that provide courses directed at empowering
both women and men (ITU, 2009). Additionally, they
can facilitate capacity-building in communities by
establishing partnerships and leveraging the skills
and knowledge of experienced international and
4.4 Capacity development for promoting women in
The prerequisites for women’s participation in
innovation systems include equal access to education,
capital and markets. Men and women can only have
equal potential to achieve the same standard of living
if they have an equal distribution of opportunities
and outcomes throughout their lives, including, for
instance, equal employment opportunities, earnings
and returns to labour. Gender equality in an economic
sense requires equal access to resources (e.g. credit,
market opportunities and training), but also equal
engagement in all aspects of economic activity, such
as decision-making and choices over how assets and
profits are used (see Box 22).
Increasing skills and tools in support of small
and micro enterprises is an important capacity-
development activity for women. And increased
capacity leads to empowerment, which enables more
choices, gives decision-making power and autonomy,
and encourages the acceptance of new social and
gender roles. One means of supporting women’s
enterprises is through the provision of credit. A great
degree of empowerment has resulted from women’s
personal involvement in selling and accounting
related to the loans. In a 1995 study of 826 loans in
Bangladesh’s credit programmes, for instance, it was
found that labour, selling and accounting activities
all contributed significantly to borrowers’ knowledge
and provided some degree of empowerment.24 The
credit programme not only helped raise the household
status of women, but it also provided access to
productive resources. This in turn helped women to
build and expand their capacities to understand and
respond to market trends in an informed way, with
sufficient resources to promote longer term and more
substantial outcomes (Ackerly, 1995).
As off-farm income and wage-earning opportunities
contribute more and more to household incomes,
Box 22: Ingredients for economic empowerment and development for both women and men
• Equal access to education, training and upgrading of skills,
• Control over productive resources, including land and ownership rights,
• Equal access to markets (land, labour, financial and product markets),
• Equal access to services,
• The ability to benefit from the use of public funds, particularly for infrastructure, and public goods, and
• Generation of income from own labour.
Source: Bathge, 2010.
Box 23: Promoting biotechnology-based entrepreneurship in India
The Golden Jubilee Biotech Park for Women in India is part of a broader strategy by the Indian Government to promote
women’s biotechnology-based entrepreneurship. It is designed to improve opportunities for women scientists, and to
use science to improve women’s lives by supporting women biotechnology entrepreneurs in developing and marketing
The Biotech Park for Women was launched as a tripartite initiative of the Department of Biotechnology, the Tamilnadu
state government and the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, which provided technical support. In addition,
members of the governing body of the park include representatives from R&D institutions and financial institutions,
as well as women entrepreneurs. The initiative works with bankers, industry, Government and other groups to assist
in providing credit, access to technologies, regulatory clearances, as well as approvals and certifications. Appropriate
infrastructure has also been developed, such as electricity, telephone connections, roads and transport. The Park offers
long and short-term leases, land modules for building factories, project assessment and support, project identification
and technology sourcing, advice, market linkages and training.
Source: Nair, 2009.
374. apprOacheS fOr applyINg The geNder leNS IN STI
supporting women’s access to technologies to
improve their livelihoods will become increasingly
important. Encouraging women to participate in
innovation not only requires providing them with
access to technologies and involving them in the
development of appropriate technologies; it also
necessitates the development and provision of
institutions and infrastructure, including credit, to
support women’s enterprises, along with advice
and support services for business and technology
development (Box 23).
4.4.1 ICTs in support of women’s livelihoods
ICTs provide an avenue for women and men to
access information and knowledge that will help
build sustainable small-scale livelihoods, improve
health and well-being (World Bank, 2009b). Mobile
phones, computers and the Internet can facilitate
access to markets, clients and suppliers, improve
market research, and increase profits and efficiency,
as well as access to sources of finance through,
for instance, mobile banking. This is particularly
important for those groups, especially women micro
entrepreneurs, who would not otherwise have easy
access to market, information and finance.
Women entrepreneurs of micro and small businesses
face four specific barriers that ICTs (in particular
mobile phones) can potentially help overcome
(UNCTAD, 2011b). First, they encounter greater
difficulty accessing formal finance. Second, they have
less time to spend on their businesses due to the
burden of family responsibilities. Third, they generally
have less access to skills and training, and finally, they
often have less physical mobility, which is a constraint
in accessing opportunities, markets and networks.
As ICT needs and usage vary greatly among different
segments of micro and small women entrepreneurs,
it is important for initiatives to be tailored to the
targeted groups of beneficiaries. For example, a
study of urban micro and small women entrepreneurs
in Kenya found that among enterprises with 0–50
employees, ICT needs and usage varied significantly
between those with 0–5, 6–15, and 16–50 employees
(Nguyen, 2011). In spite of the potential offered by
ICTs, few initiatives and policy interventions have so
far taken full advantage of them to support women
entrepreneurs. Therefore more needs to be done in
this area (UNCTAD, 2011b).
A few examples illustrate the role that ICTs can play
in promoting women’s livelihoods. For instance,
in Burkina Faso, when women of the Songtaaba
Association, an organization that markets shea butter
skin-care products, started using ICTs, their profits
more than doubled. The Association set up telecentres
in two villages managed entirely by rural women
trained by the Association, and within two years of
their websites going online, profits increased by 200
per cent (UNDAW, 2010). In Egypt, ICTs were used
to preserve and update the traditional embroidery
stitching of upper Egypt, the Sinai, and the Siwa oasis,
some of which was threatened with extinction. Many
of the young women involved now sell their products
either in exhibitions or through the Internet (Hassan,
4.4.2 Modern renewable energy technologies for women
Addressing the main energy priorities for women in
rural areas could provide sustainable and low-impact
alternative sources for the short and longer term. The
examples below illustrate innovative local solutions in
the design and development of energy technologies
which involve and benefit women.
The Grameen Shakti project in Bangladesh is a
sustainable and affordable energy project which
trains women in the installation and maintenance of
solar systems. Grameen Bank provides micro loans
for the purchase of domestic solar home systems,
and has involved local women in the installation and
maintenance of 30,000 such systems, so far, in rural
households. The emissions avoided through reduced
use of diesel and kerosene generators are bought by
the project operator as “certified emission reductions”
under the Clean Development Mechanism and can
be sold in the emissions trading market. The project
therefore produces income which subsidizes the cost
of the domestic solar home systems. Not only does
it replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources,
it also contributes to poverty reduction and the
economic empowerment of the women participants
(Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 2009).
In another example, the Self-Employed Women’s
Association (SEWA), a trade union for self-employed
women in the informal sector in India, worked with
Selco India, a solar energy services company,
and its own cooperative bank to involve women in
renewable energy projects through micro-finance
schemes. The projects encouraged the innovative
use of solar power to make clean energy and light
sources affordable for low-income households. As
a result, health hazards, costs and CO2 emissions
38 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
caused by the use of kerosene have been reduced.
Solar lamps cost less than kerosene lamps and are
less dangerous, and affordable lighting has enabled
women to increase their productive time by up to two
hours per day. An additional competitive advantage
is that the decentralized systems are unaffected by
power outages on the main grid. As a result of these
innovations, the implementation and dissemination of
solar lamps by a women’s organization are increasing
the users’ self-confidence, helping them gain greater
respect in their families and community, allowing
greater mobility and increasing their sense of personal
security (Bathge, 2010).
Eritrea’s improved cooking stove project provides an
example of a shift to more efficient uses of resources,
where women were not only the beneficiaries of the
improved technology but were actively involved
in disseminating the technology and in capacity-
building. The Eritrean Ministry of Energy and Mines set
up the Energy Research and Training Centre (ERTC)
in 1995 to promote R&D in renewable energy. One
of the key technologies identified was an improved
cooking stove. Drawing from experiences in China
and India, such as sourcing from local manufacturers
and maintaining low costs, ERTC, the University of
Asmara and the Ministry of Construction designed
and tested new cooking stoves and explored areas
where the stoves would be manufactured and used.
The improved design included raising the stove from
the floor, which increased safety, and it was capable
of burning a range of fuels, including fuelwood, twigs,
leaves and animal manure. Furthermore, technology
uptake was encouraged through ERTC’s classes
held in the local communities. ERTC also encouraged
capacity-building at the local level by training women
to make the stoves, and the trained women, in turn,
were hired to teach others (Ergeneman 2003, cited in
These examples show the importance of involving
women in capacity-building, as well as the importance
of mobilizing government, financial and academic
institutions to encourage women’s participation in the
4.5 Approaches for action: interconnections and
empowerment through a gender lens
STI does not function in isolation when introduced into
a community or initiative; it affects and is affected by
social, economic, political and environmental factors.
STI initiatives that investigate, assess, monitor and
address implications for environmental sustainability,
human development and gender equality are
more likely to produce equitable and sustainable
results. This section presents a few examples of STI
interventions that include the following elements:
• Gendered social and economic analysis and
assessment of problems/issues;
• Capacity-building of both interveners and
• Recognizing and building on the innovations and
capacities of women;
• Multi-stakeholder partnerships for development
and replication of initiatives; and
• Ongoing monitoring and analysis of results and
These approaches, adopted in energy, water, food
production and livelihood development, have proved
successful in producing a range of benefits for both
women and men, including:
• Economic benefits in the form of improved
livelihoods and increased income generation in
• Environmental benefits and effects;
• Improved health;
• Gender empowerment and improvements in
gender relations; and
• Sustainability, with the basic ingredients in place
for these projects to continue independently of
the original intervention.
4.5.1 Innovation with a gender lens in food production:
women’s innovations in fish smoking in Niger25
Prolinnova, an NGO in Niger that promotes local
innovation in agriculture and natural resource
management, worked with women to improve the
process of fish smoking. Women in the community
used a banda, a traditional local oven, to smoke fish
and sell them in neighbouring markets and villages.
This task, traditionally undertaken by women, was
inefficient, unsafe for women and their children, and
yielded low profits. Environmental problems also
resulted from the intensive use of wood, and, as wood
became more scarce, longer hours of travel and
transport were required.
The approach for developing innovation in fish
smoking by involving the women in the community
was as follows:
• First, an inventory of local innovations and
farmer innovators was undertaken to determine
possible alternative methods for fish smoking.
394. apprOacheS fOr applyINg The geNder leNS IN STI
A national workshop was also held to rank
a series of potential alternatives using the
criteria of innovativeness, social, economic and
environmental impacts, replication potential and
• Planning and implementation of joint
experimentation with the women in the community
• Monitoring and evaluation assessed the
performance of the revised designs.
• The results were then disseminated and the
process was refined based on the results
Partnerships in implementation and monitoring
Innovators and other villagers provided local
construction materials, while Prolinnova Niger
provided complementary resources, such as metals
and windows, as well as financial support and
planning. Researchers from the Instituto Nazionale di
Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione (Rome) and the
Faculty of Agronomy at the regional university provided
support to strengthen farmers’ capacities by assisting
with the design of the banda and the documentation
of the results. The municipality of Falmey provided
support for registering the Banda Guiyara Rayuwa
Ka cooperative and for accessing markets in Benin
and Nigeria. Partnerships were also established for
ongoing support to farmers, as well as for monitoring
and evaluation at local and national levels.
Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation were undertaken at
national, departmental and community levels, through
a working group composed of farmers, researchers
and extension workers. Partnerships among farmer
innovators, ministries/Government departments and
the community were set up to work with women
innovators and experimenters to follow up and register
Benefits of the innovation
As a result of the improved banda oven design, there
was a three- to sixfold increase in capacity, and the
quality of fish produced improved in colour, texture
and taste. The design also protected the fish from
predatory dogs, rodents and birds, and from wind
The innovation brought environmental and health
benefits. The environmental benefits resulted from
increased efficiency, as the new stove reduced the
amount of time and resources required for smoking
fish (with a nearly sixfold reduction in the use of
fuelwood). It also resulted in improved health, greater
safety, a larger consumer base with supplies going
to the neighbouring countries Benin and Nigeria. In
addition, the project promoted the dissemination of
sustainable innovation (seven additional banda stoves
were built without external support or funding).
A gendered assessment of the traditional stove brought
attention to the inefficiencies of the conventional fish
smoking process. The traditional process produced
low outputs compared with the long processing
time, used resources and time inefficiently, adversely
affected health, and contributed only modestly to
household income. The modified banda overcame
these problems and helped improve the livelihoods of
women and their families. Strong partnerships at the
local, national and international levels, among a variety
of stakeholders, contributed to the success of the trials.
Furthermore, ongoing monitoring and support led to
self-sufficiency, and programme expansion due to the
community’s own initiative.
4.5.2 Gender, water, rural livelihoods and drip irrigation
An assessment of a drip irrigation project in several
villages in Nepal examined the effects on gender
roles, workload, household food and nutritional intake,
and gender perceptions in relation to vegetable
production, the economics of the technology, and the
reasons for its adoption.
In the region under study, women play a predominant
role in drip-irrigated vegetable production, contributing
88 per cent of the total labour. With the exception of
seedbed preparation and some sowing, women were
found to predominate in all aspects of production as
well as in marketing the vegetables. Generally, in these
areas the extension and adoption system has focused
largely on men farmers and community leaders, while
women have received little or no information on
improved agriculture and technology.
International Development Enterprises (IDE), an NGO
network with headquarters in Denver (United States)
worked with smallholder farmers, in particular women,
to form self-help groups for vegetable cultivation
using micro-irrigation technology.27 Besides technical
and social support, IDE also provided support
for marketing the produce by contributing to the
establishment of vegetable collection centres in each
40 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
One result of the new irrigation technology was an
increase in total food availability for the household. It
also resulted in improved access to and control over
resources by women, and improved their status and
participation in decision-making. As one agency staff
member observed, at the start of the project, women
participants would run away when project staff arrived,
but once it was established, they would independently
approach agents asking for more training on organic
vegetable cultivation and crop protection.
The benefits of drip irrigation included:
• Reduced workloads for women. Before the
project was introduced, women and girls spent,
on average, one or two hours per day fetching
water for both domestic use and homestead
irrigation. As part of the project, IDE helped
identify probable alternative water sources and
use of those sources, thereby reducing the time
required for fetching water for domestic purposes,
irrespective of the use of drip irrigation.
• A 50 per cent reduction in irrigation time.
• Economic empowerment
• Saving-credit accounts were set up in the
• Employment creation.
• Annual mean incomes from vegetable sales
increased by more than 50 per cent and
marginalized populations experienced the
highest increases in income.
• The local economy was stimulated, as farmers
began purchasing goods and services from
the village markets.
• Local enterprises were engaged in distribution
and installation of the technology, creating
employment in the village.
• Collective empowerment and organization. Local
women’s self-help groups were formed to share
experiences. There was also an increase in social
networks, and greater self-esteem and self-
confidence among members.
• Increased status. Women farmers in the project
are now regarded as model commercial vegetable
growers by farmers in other villages, and those
farmers are planning to replicate the model in
• Nutritional improvements. The drip irrigation
system increased vegetable production in the
• The profits from vegetable sales are used by
women to invest in livestock; thus dairy products
are now included in the diets and the surplus milk
• Gender empowerment and improved gender
• Women in the area now control an income
source they did not have before. They have
greater influence in both households and in
• Women are increasingly consulted by men
in decision-making, and the majority of the
decisions are made jointly.
Changes in the gender division of labour have
Taking into account the physical and resource
constraints of women farmers, the drip irrigation
system provided many benefits at the household and
community level. Incomes and production increased,
while the local economy benefited from increased
spending and from the local development and
deployment of the technology. Health improved as
a result of increased vegetable intake. Finally, gender
relations became more equal, as women gained
influence over decision-making in their families and
4.6. Lessons learnt: how not to apply the gender
lens to STI
While examples of positive effects of S&T exist, and
are increasing, a token inclusion of women and a
failure to apply the gender lens to an understanding of
social, economic and environmental effects can lead
to poor outcomes in one or more aspects of a project.
4.6.1 Plastic drum seeders
Plastic drum seeders have been widely promoted
in South-East and South Asia, enabling farmers to
sow rice seeds directly instead of broadcasting or
transplanting rice seedlings. They are popular with
farmers since they lower production costs through
reduced use of seeds and labour and higher yields.
Data from an International Rice Research Institute
project in Viet Nam show that the time spent by women
on tasks such as gap-filling and hand-weeding is
vastly reduced when using this technology (Carr and
The seeders have proved popular with women from
415. cONcluSIONS aNd recOmmeNdaTIONS
better-off households, who now have more time to
spend on childcare, income-generating activities and
community activities. It was found that 81 per cent of
women from such households reduced their labour
in gap-filling and hand-weeding, and that 90 per
cent were happy with the introduction of the seeders.
However, while one group of women in this project
experienced definite improvements, the lack of a
comprehensive gender and socio-economic analysis
meant that the benefits were at the expense of another
group of women. This other group of women, who
were from poorer and landless households and had
previously been hired by farmers to undertake these
tasks, lost their livelihoods. Almost 50 per cent of
poor women and 100 per cent of landless women
lost their work opportunities on other farms. Of these,
only 56 per cent of the landless were able to diversify
their income-generating activities or find work further
away. For both categories, most women stated that
job losses and concomitant reductions in income led
to food shortages and to an increase in their poverty
levels (Carr and Hartl, 2010).
In designing STI programmes and policies, it is
therefore important to adopt a holistic approach
that takes into account the likely impact of these
programmes and policies on all groups of women,
as well as on men. There are some crucial questions
that need to be considered. For example, how can the
employment and production needs of women and men
be met when developing technology inputs? What is
the role of STI in supporting those women who lose
their jobs either as a result of the development of S&T-
supported enterprises or other production strategies?
4.6.2 Management of water supplies and health care in
Kaffrine and Kebemer
In Senegal, the principle of involving women in the
management of community infrastructure, including
attempts to reserve the position of treasurer for women,
is promoted in the health and water management
sectors. However, in practice, women are often
relegated to roles with little power. For example, in
the departments of Kaffrine and Kebemer, 60 wells
identified are managed by men. The average number
of women members on the committees related to
management of community infrastructure is 1–3 out
of 12 members, and women do not occupy influential
posts such as chairperson, treasurer and secretary.
Rather, they tend to be assigned to less prominent
tasks such as managing the public fountains. Health
management committees generally include two or
three women, but often they do not participate in
meetings and hold no committee positions, even
though at least 60 per cent of the income of the health
facilities comes from women’s services. Delivery
rooms and other facilities specifically required by
women often are stocked with inadequate equipment
(World Bank, undated).
The lesson learnt is that integrating gender into
the management of community infrastructure
development should not be limited to symbolic
roles; mechanisms for shared management between
men and women are needed. Without application
of a gender lens to all aspects of an initiative, the
involvement of women is merely a token gesture and
little change can result (World Bank, undated).
Applying the gender lens to STI for development
requires time, effort, analysis, consultation and
ongoing evaluation and monitoring. It also requires an
interconnected, systematic, holistic and participatory
approach that balances the needs, priorities and
opportunities of women, men and ecosystems.
The gender perspective in STI implies women’s
involvement in all areas of capacity development,
including education and knowledge development, as
well as in participatory decision-making processes.
The necessary institutions and support must also be
established in order to provide equal opportunities for
women to enter, develop and innovate in the fields of
science and technology.
5. Conclusions and recommendations
Applying a gender lens to STI is critical in efforts
to support human development while ensuring
environmental sustainability. This requires the
integration of a gender perspective throughout the
policy-making process – from diagnosis through
policy design, to implementation, monitoring and
follow-up. Such a perspective necessitates an
understanding of the respective impacts of policies
on men and women, and on their access to resources
and opportunities, as well as a recognition of their
abilities and innovative capacities at the grassroots
level and the need for capacity-building to design and
This report has identified three entry points for applying
this gender lens: (i) ensuring women’s participation
in S&T (women in science), (ii) developing and
implementing S&T approaches which benefit women
(science for women), and (iii) encouraging and
42 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
supporting women in innovation systems at national
and grassroots levels. It argues for the need to consult
and engage women in the choice, development and
application of technologies; ensure that women have
access to sufficient resources in order to benefit from
S&T innovations; support women to become scientists
and technologists; and recognize and support their
local knowledge and innovative practices.
Key strategies are:
1) Evidence-based assessments of problems and
challenges that take into account gender equality
in the design and implementation of STI policies
2) Developing solutions and strategies in
consultation with both men and women at all
3) Putting into place the programmes and support
structures needed to implement gender-sensitive
STI policy, such as credit and financing, scaling
up of programmes and expert support.
4) Building capacities to support institutions through
partnerships, consultation and training with and
for women at the grassroots.
5) Ensuring access for women to STI education and
technology skills through both formal and informal
6) Promoting the use of S&T to support and increase
7) Implementing ongoing monitoring and impact
assessments, including through the collection
and analysis of gender-disaggregated data on
benefits and results.
5.1 Recommendations at the national level
Policymakers could consider the following at the
• Incorporate a gender dimension in national STI
policies and link them to policies on food and
agriculture, water, energy, infrastructure and
• Carry out gender-differentiated impact
assessments on all policies related to STI for
development to ensure that they benefit both men
and women equally.
• Foster a cooperative and interlinked approach
among all relevant ministries and departments,
including, for instance, ministries of agriculture,
energy, health, education, transport and STI, and
the national agencies for gender equality.
• Implement gender-responsive budgets and audits
of policies and programmes in all government
• Improve the monitoring of impacts of policies
and programmes on women and men in STI
sectors, including analyses of impacts by gender,
and ensure the systematic collection and use of
• Promote the participation and influence of
women in user groups, producer organizations,
service providers and governing boards, and in
policymaking bodies at all levels. This can be
achieved by developing women’s leadership
skills and through quota schemes in mixed
• Promote women’s participation in decision-
making at all levels, including through temporary
special measures, and support policies and
mechanisms that create an enabling environment
for women’s organizations and networks,
including self-help groups, workers’ organizations
• Encourage consultation with women in the
design, development and implementation of STI
programmes and strategies aimed at promoting
• Provide support for and scaling up of successful
models and approaches through appropriate
financial and policy measures, focusing on multi-
stakeholder partnerships and encourage private
sector and livelihood development to ensure the
sustainability of initiatives.
• Increase the capacity of women and girls at the
local level through appropriate information and
educational (formal and informal), training and
technical support systems.
• Support education, training and employment
of women as scientists and professionals in STI
• Ensure women’s equal access to resources,
education, extension and financial services, land
and markets to support their STI- and gender-
• Increase the capacity of personnel involved in
implementing national development strategies,
rural development, agricultural development,
poverty eradication and the MDGs to identify and
address the challenges and constraints facing
rural women. This could be achieved through
training programmes and the development and
dissemination of methodologies and tools.
• Technologies and other forms of support for
developing income-generating activities from
435. cONcluSIONS aNd recOmmeNdaTIONS
smallholder agriculture should be targeted to
take into account the different needs of men
and women. This should include business
management training, access to market and
production information, adequate transport and
• Use ICTs to provide information, training, and
business support to women farmers as well as
field experts working with them.
5.2 Recommendations at the international level
International organizations could provide support
through the following actions:
• Support the packaging of agricultural information
and knowledge in a variety of ICT formats
(including mobile phones), to make it more
accessible to people in marginalized and rural
communities, to those with low levels of literacy
and to those who rely on public media such as
radio, television and newspapers.
• Assess, refine and disseminate successful
methodologies for participatory R&D initiatives,
working with both women and men.
• Encourage partnerships and collaboration
between international research institutions and
agencies, national STI research institutions,
universities, NGOs, government agencies and
the private sector for the purpose of integrating
gender perspectives and the inputs of women
producers, scientists and innovators into STI for
• Help to develop clear, evidence-based arguments
for gender mainstreaming in STI.
• Identify and disseminate expertise/case studies
tailored for policy- and decision-makers
• Support training of staff in gender analysis to
enable gender-sensitive policies, programming
and impact evaluation (including skills in collecting
gender-disaggregated information, analysis of
data sets, and monitoring).
• Work with national governments to encourage
them to mainstream gender in their STI policies,
for instance by paying particular attention to this
issue in their aid programmes.
• Adopt appropriate measures to identify and
address the negative impacts of the current
global crises (food and energy, climate change
and financial and economic) on women.
Finally, it is also to be noted that the United Nations
Commission on the Status of Women, recognizing the
crucial importance of gender, science and technology,
addressed this as a priority theme at its 55th session,
held on 22 February to 4 March 2011 in New York.
The Commission adopted Agreed Conclusions on
“access and participation of women and girls in
education, training and science and technology,
including for the promotion of women’s equal access
to full employment and decent work” (see Annex for
full text). These conclusions highlighted, amongst
others, the need for the sharing of good practice
examples and lessons learned in mainstreaming a
gender perspective in STI policies and programmes,
with a view to replicating and scaling up successes.
44 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
1 See, for example, United Nations, 2005; UNCTAD, 2007; CSTD, 2004 and 2005; UNCTAD, 2010a; and
World Bank, 2009a.
2 For example, China and Nigeria are both reorienting their STI policies to address wider national socio-
economic development goals, linking them more directly to national development plans and funding (see
Chapter 2 for details).
3 The GWG was established by the CSTD in 1993 to develop a series of recommendations for the United
Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on gender and science for development, to contribute
to the discussions on S&T at the Fourth World Conference on Women which was held in Beijing in 1995.
The report of the GWG was endorsed by ECOSOC in July 1995, and later that same year the report’s
recommendation that a Gender Advisory Board be established to provide advice to the CSTD was carried
4 And in fact, there may be situations where it is appropriate to transfer successful strategies in developing
countries to the inner cities and underdeveloped rural areas of developed countries.
5 The UNDP’s use of this term refers to multiple deprivations at the individual level in health, education and
standard of living (UNDP, 2010).
6 In areas where women can express their voice, have rights and access to education, for example in the
Indian state of Kerala, where there is a long tradition of women’s education and property rights, fertility rates
were lowered more effectively than in China where a one-child policy was enforced by the State. Gender
empowerment has also proved more effective in increasing life expectancy in Kerala, which is higher than
in the richer and more industrialized states of northern India.
7 For example, there are 134 million “missing” women and girls in the world – almost a third more than
previous estimates (UNDP, 2010).
8 “Reproductive responsibilities” refers to care and provision for family members, including subsistence
farming in many regions; “productive responsibilities” relate to small-scale livelihoods and income-generating
activities to support the family; “community management responsibilities” relate to upkeep, maintenance of
communal resources, volunteer work and similar activities beyond the household (Moser, 1993).
9 See: Chapter 3 for examples of approaches to overcome the challenges in these sectors. They demonstrate
how STI applied with a gender lens can have interconnecting and mutually reinforcing positive effects on
human development, environmental sustainability, social and gender equality and economic development.
10 See: http://www.gshakti.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=79&Itemid=68
11 See: www.wedo.org and www.wocan.org/.
12 Intermediate means of transport increase transport capacity and reduce human drudgery at lower costs
than large motor vehicles. They include single- and two-wheel technologies, tricycles and waterway
technologies such as low-cost boats. They can be powered by engines or animals, (e.g. sledges pulled by
camels, donkeys, mules, oxen and/or horses) (IFRTD, 2010).
13 See also Chapter 4 for a discussion on representation of women in the knowledge-based sector.
14 Based on an EC study in 2005 that conducted 3,400 interviews with women and men professors in six
countries during the period 2000–2003.
15 However, some countries have been trying to address it. In South Africa, for example, the National Advisory
Council on Innovation in the Department of S&T holds an annual symposium on women’s leadership in
science, technology and innovation (see NACI, 2010, and section 4.1.2).
16 However, there are challenges to both capturing and scaling up this kind of innovation (Murenzi et al., 2010;
17 WSIS, Geneva Declaration of Principles, 2003. Available at: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs/geneva/official/
18 It is beyond the scope of this report to address methodologies and processes for carrying out a gender
19 See: www.indianwomenscientists.in.
20 See Gender in EU Research Toolkit and Training, at: http://www.yellowwindow.be/genderinresearch/index_
21 See: http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/index.cfm?fuseaction=public.topic&id=1297.
22 See: http://www.apecwln.org/.
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both formal and informal. Open and distance learning (ODL) is defined by the Commonwealth of Learning
(2000) as “a way of providing learning opportunities that is characterized by the separation of teacher and
learner in time or place, or both time and place”, which includes computers and other ICTs.
24 The study looked at loans provided by Grameen Bank (Bangladesh), Save the Children Fund (United
States) and the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee.
25 This example draws on Saidou, 2008.
26 This example is drawn from Upadhyay, Samad and Giordano, 2005.
27 The newly introduced drip irrigation system involved a 50-litre drum connected to small pipes laid in the
field which could be opened and closed to manage water flow. This replaced the previous method of
manual irrigation, which is time-intensive, heavy and uses more water.
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Agreed conclusions on access and participation of women and girls in education,
training and science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal
access to full employment and decent work
The following agreed conclusions adopted by the Commission are transmitted to the Economic and Social
Council, in accordance with its resolution 2008/29 of 24 July 2008, as an input into the annual ministerial review
Access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology, including for
the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work*
1. The Commission on the Status of Women reaffirms the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the
outcome documents of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly and the declarations
adopted by the Commission on the occasion of the tenth and fifteenth anniversaries of the Fourth World
Conference on Women.
2. The Commission reiterates that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities and the Optional Protocols thereto, as well as other conventions and treaties, such as
the relevant conventions of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the
International Labour Organization, provide a legal framework and a comprehensive set of measures for
the promotion of gender equality in education and employment.
3. The Commission recalls the United Nations Millennium Declaration and General Assembly resolution
65/1 of 22 September 2010, and recognizes the interdependence of all the Millennium Development
Goals. The Commission also recalls the ministerial declaration of the 2010 high-level segment of the
Economic and Social Council on implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in
regard to gender equality and empowerment of women. It takes note of the Budapest Science Agenda —
Framework for Action, adopted at the World Conference on Science in 1999, and of the Dakar Framework
for Action: Education for All, adopted at the World Education Forum in 2000.
4. The Commission welcomes the establishment of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the
Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and its operationalization, which will strengthen the ability of the
United Nations to support the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women, and
welcomes the appointment of Michelle Bachelet as the first Under-Secretary-General and Executive
Director of UN.
5. The Commission acknowledges the important role of national machineries for the advancement of women,
which should be placed at the highest possible level of government, the relevant contribution of national
human rights institutions where they exist, and the important role of civil society, especially women’s
organizations, in advancing the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and
in promoting the full and equal access and participation of women and girls in education, training and
science and technology.
6. The Commission stresses that education is a human right, and that equal access to education, training and
science and technology empowers women and girls in the context of global economic and technological
changes and promotes development, all human rights, human rights education and learning at all levels,
as well as gender equality, the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and
girls and the eradication of poverty.
7. The Commission reaffirms that the best interest of the child shall be the guiding principle of those
responsible for his or her education and guidance in the exercise by the child of his or her rights and that
responsibility lies in the first place with his or her parents or legal guardians.
8. The Commission welcomes the progress made in increasing women’s and girls’ access to and
* For the discussion, see chap. II, paras. 75–78.
participation in education and training, including science and technology education. The Commission
recognizes the potential of education and training and science and technology, to contribute to the
economic empowerment of women, which also leads to accelerating progress towards achieving the
internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, by 2015.
9. The Commission notes that quality education and full and equal access and participation in science and
technology for women of all ages are imperative for achieving gender equality and the empowerment
of women, and an economic necessity, and that they provide women with the knowledge, capacity,
aptitudes, skills, ethical values and understanding necessary for lifelong learning, employment, better
physical and mental health, including the prevention and control of maternal mortality, HIV and AIDS and
other communicable and noncommunicable diseases, as well as for full participation in social, economic
and political development.
10. The Commission welcomes the important contribution that women make to all fields of education, training,
science and technology, and recognizes their work in the full spectrum of professions in science and
technology. The Commission also acknowledges that women and men should continue to contribute to
the promotion of the ethical dimensions of scientific and technological progress.
11. The Commission recognizes that research and development in science and technology, and its
dissemination, have insufficiently responded to women’s needs. The Commission stresses the need
for increased cooperation among countries, including through international cooperation and transfer of
technologies on mutually agreed terms, especially to developing countries, in order to enhance equal
access of women to science and technology and their participation in science and technology education.
12. The Commission expresses continued concern at the negative impact of the global crises, such as the
financial and economic crisis, the food crisis and continuing food insecurity, and the energy crisis, as
well as the challenges posed by poverty, natural disasters and climate change, on the empowerment of
women and girls, including their access and participation in education, training, science and technology.
13. The Commission expresses concern at the serious and persistent obstacles that still hinder the
advancement of women and further affect their participation in decision-making, including the persistent
feminization of poverty, the lack of equal access to health, education, training and employment, as well as
armed conflict, lack of security and natural disasters.
14. The Commission acknowledges that men and women continue to face gender stereotypes, as well
as challenges and obstacles to changing discriminatory attitudes, and stresses that challenges and
obstacles remain in the implementation of international standards and norms to address the inequality
between men and women.
15. The Commission expresses deep concern about all legal, economic, social and cultural barriers that
prevent women and girls from having equal access to education and training, and recognizes that
some women and girls face multiple discrimination and disadvantages that prevent their participation in
education, training and employment.
16. The Commission recognizes that the upbringing of children requires the shared responsibility of parents,
women and men and society as a whole, and that maternity, motherhood, parenting and the role of
women in procreation must not be a basis for discrimination nor restrict the full participation of women in
17. The Commission expresses deep concern that discrimination and violence against women and girls,
including sexual harassment and bullying, continue to occur in all parts of the world, including in education
and in the workplace. The Commission notes that those are obstacles to the achievement of women’s
and girls’ equal access to and participation in education, including in science and technology education,
and training, as well as impediments to the development of their full potential as equal partners with men
in other aspects of life, including full employment and decent work.
18. The Commission also expresses concern that inadequate educational opportunities and low quality
education reduce the benefits of education and training for women and girls, men and boys, and that
woman’s educational gains are yet to translate into equal access to full employment and decent work, with
consequent long-term adverse effects on the development of any society. It remains deeply concerned
by the persistence of high female illiteracy rates and gender stereotyped roles of women and men, which
56 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
inhibit women’s equal participation in employment, leading to occupational segregation, including the
widespread under representation of women and girls in many fields of science and technology, which
represents a loss of talent and perspectives, hinders economic development and women’s economic
empowerment and can contribute to the gender pay gap.
19. The Commission expresses concern about high drop-out rates from school of female students in many
parts of the world, especially at the secondary level, and including at the tertiary level, owing to multiple
discrimination and factors that impede girls’ participation in education.
20. The Commission expresses concern that the unequal sharing of responsibilities of daily life, including
care giving between women and men, girls and boys, has a disproportionate impact on women’s and
girls’ access to education, training and science and technology, and on their economic empowerment
and long-term economic security.
21. The Commission underlines that addressing the barriers to equal access of women and girls to education,
training and science and technology requires a systematic, comprehensive, integrated, sustainable,
multidisciplinary and multi sectoral approach, including policy, legislative and programmatic interventions
and, as appropriate, gender-responsive budgeting, at all levels.
22. The Commission urges Governments, at all levels, including local authorities and national machineries for
the advancement of women, and/or, as appropriate, the relevant entities of the United Nations system and
international and regional organizations, within their respective mandates and bearing in mind national
priorities, and invites national human rights institutions where they exist, and civil society, including on-
governmental organizations, academia, educational, scientific research and funding institutions, the
private sector, employer organizations, trade unions, professional associations, the media and other
relevant actors, to take the following actions, as appropriate:
Strengthening national legislation, policies and programmes
(a) Mainstream a gender perspective in legislation, policies and programmes within all governmental
sectors, including education, training, science and technology, academia, research institutions and
research funding agencies, in order to address unequal access and participation of women and girls
in education, training and science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal
access to full employment and decent work;
(b) Strengthen capacities to ensure that science education policies and curricula are relevant to the
needs of women and girls so that developments in science and technology can directly benefit them;
(c) Improve and systematize the collection, analysis and dissemination of sex-, age- and disability-
disaggregated data; enhance capacity development in this regard; and develop relevant gender-
sensitive indicators to support legislative development and policymaking on education, training and
science and technology;
(d) Encourage the provision of institutional and financial support for academic studies that can produce
gender-specific knowledge and feed into all policies and programmes on education, training and
research and support research, including longitudinal policy research, to identify specific gaps in
education and career pathways, so as to promote the retention of women and girls in different fields
of science and technology and in other relevant disciplines;
(e) Strengthen the monitoring and evaluation and, where appropriate, the review of existing policies and
programmes to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in education, training,
science and technology, and access to full employment and decent work, in order to assess
their effectiveness and impact, ensure a gender perspective in all policies and programmes and
(f) Encourage and, as appropriate, increase public and private investment in education and training
to expand women’s and girls’ access to quality education and training throughout their life cycle,
including, inter alia, through the provision of scholarships for study in science and technology in
secondary and tertiary institutions, and to ensure that research and development in the field of
science and technology directly benefits women and girls;
(g) Incorporate systematically a gender perspective into budgetary policies at all levels to ensure that
public resources in education, training, science, technology and research equally benefit women
and men, girls and boys, and contribute to the empowerment of women and girls in particular;
(h) Urge developed countries that have not yet done so, in accordance with their commitments, to
make concrete efforts towards meeting the target of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product
for official development assistance to developing countries and the target of 0.15 to 0.20 per cent
of their gross national product for official development assistance to least developed countries,
and encourage developing countries to build on the progress achieved in ensuring that official
development assistance is used effectively to help meet development goals and targets and help
them, inter alia, to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women;
(i) Strengthen international cooperation in the area of access and participation of women and girls in
education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access
to full employment and decent work and the promotion of women’s participation in the exchange
of scientific knowledge, and welcome and encourage in this regard South-South, North-South and
triangular cooperation and recognize that the commitment to explore opportunities for further South-
South cooperation entails not seeking a substitute for but rather a complement to North-South
(j) Prioritize and encourage enhanced funding and capacity development efforts for the education and
training needs of girls and women in development assistance programmes;
(k) Continue to strengthen policies relevant for women’s economic empowerment aimed at addressing
inequality affecting women and girls, in access to and achievement in education at all levels, including
in science and technology, in particular to eliminate inequalities related to age, poverty, geographic
allocation, language, ethnicity, disability, and race, or because they are indigenous people, or people
living with HIV and AIDS;
(l) Strengthen national efforts, including with the support of international cooperation, aimed at
addressing the rights and needs of women and girls affected by natural disasters, armed conflicts,
other complex humanitarian emergencies, trafficking in persons and terrorism, within the context
of access and participation of women and girls to education, training and science and technology,
including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. Also
underline the need to take concerted actions in conformity with international law to remove the
obstacles to the full realization of the rights of women and girls living under foreign occupation, so as
to ensure the achievement of the above-mentioned goals;
Expanding access and participation in education
(m) Ensure women’s and girls’ full and equal access to quality formal, informal and non-formal education
and vocational training at all levels, including to free and compulsory primary education, and provide
educational opportunities, including in science and technology, from early childhood and throughout
the life cycle, including lifelong learning and retraining, human rights education and learning,
and adult and distance education and e-learning, including in information and communications
technology and entrepreneurial skills, in order to promote the empowerment of women, interalia,
through enhancing and facilitating women’s access to full and productive employment, in particular
to careers in science and technology;
(n) Improve and expand women’s and girl’s access to distance education, e-learning, tele-education
and community radio, including in rural and remote communities, owing to the important role they
play in women’s development, including, inter alia, in helping to overcome issues related to time
constraints, lack of accessibility, lack of financial resources and family responsibilities;
(o) Increase enrolment and retention rates of girls in education, inter alia, by: allocating appropriate
and adequate budgetary resources; enlisting the support of parents and the community, including
through campaigns and flexible school schedules; providing financial and other incentives targeted
at families, including access to free education at the primary level, and at other levels where
possible, and scholarships; and providing teaching, learning and hygiene and health supplies, as
well as nutritional and academic support, in order to minimize the costs of education, in particular to
58 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
families, and to facilitate parents’ ability to choose education for their children;
(p) Ensure that pregnant adolescents and young mothers, as well as single mothers, can continue
and complete their education, and in this regard, design, implement and, where applicable, revise
educational policies to allow them to return to school, providing them with access to health and social
services and support, including childcare facilities and crèches, and to education programmes with
accessible locations, flexible schedules and distance education, including e-learning, and bearing in
mind the challenges faced by young fathers in this regard;
(q) Condemn all forms of violence against women and girls and take appropriate action to strengthen
and implement legal, policy, administrative and other measures to prevent and eliminate all forms
of discrimination and violence in order, interalia, to ensure access and participation in education,
training, full employment and decent work;
(r) Improve the safety of girls at and on the way to school, including, inter alia, by improving infrastructure
such as transportation, providing separate and adequate sanitation facilities, improved lighting,
playgrounds and safe environments, conducting violence prevention activities in schools and
communities and establishing and enforcing penalties for all forms of harassment and violence
Strengthening gender-sensitive quality education and training, including in the field of science and
(s) Improve the quality of education at all levels for both girls and boys, including in science and
technology education, through improving learning conditions, continuous teacher training, teaching
methodologies and curriculum development, implementing programmes to improve achievements
for the most disadvantaged learners and expanding recruitment and support for teachers, in
particular for women teachers in scientific and technological disciplines;
(t) Ensure that education results in the acquisition by women and girls of literacy and numeracy skills,
knowledge and other skills that enhance and broaden their employment opportunities;
(u) Expand and improve teacher education and training and systematically integrate a gender perspective
in such programmes in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women
and girls and to overcome gender stereotypes;
(v) Develop gender-sensitive curricula for educational programmes at all levels and take concrete
measures to ensure that educational materials portray women and men, youth, girls and boys
in positive and non-stereotypical roles, particularly in the teaching of scientific and technological
subjects, in order to address the root causes of segregation in working life;
(w) Remove legal, regulatory and social barriers, where appropriate, to sexual and reproductive health
education with informal education programmes on women’s health issues;
(x) Ensure women’s and girls’ right to education at all levels as well as access to life skills and sex
education based on full and accurate information and, with respect to girls and boys, in a manner
consistent with their evolving capacities, and with appropriate direction and guidance from parents
and legal guardians, in order to help women and girls, men and boys, to develop knowledge to
enable them to make informed and responsible decisions to reduce early childbearing and maternal
mortality, to promote access to pre- and post-natal care and to combat sexual harassment and
(y) Take steps to promote access for women and girls to education and training, including human
rights education and learning at all levels, which can foster tolerance and mutual understanding and
respect for all human rights, so that they can realize their full human potential by learning about the
comprehensive framework of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
(z) Provide quality education in emergency situations that is gender-sensitive, centred on learners, rights-
based, protective, adaptable, inclusive, participatory and reflective of the specific living conditions of
women, children and youth, and that pays due regard, as appropriate, to their linguistic and cultural
identity, mindful that quality education can foster tolerance and mutual understanding and respect
for the human rights of others;
(aa) Improve hands-on experimentation and collaborative work in science and technology classes,
highlight the broad societal applications of science and technology in curricula and educational
material and expose girls and boys, women and men, to female role models in science and
technology, in order to make science and technology, including engineering and mathematics, more
attractive for girls and women;
(bb) Promote a positive image of careers in science and technology for women and girls, including
in the mass media and social media and through sensitizing parents, students, teachers, career
counsellors and curriculum developers, and devising and scaling up other strategies to encourage
and support their participation in these fields;
Supporting the transition from education to full employment and decent work
(cc) Address the different barriers women and girls face in the transition from school to work by: expanding
the scope of education and training opportunities that are relevant to employment opportunities and
aligned with rapidly changing labour market needs, particularly in emerging, new and non-traditional
fields; helping women acquire business, trade, information and communications technology and
entrepreneurship skills; raising awareness of such opportunities and of their suitability to both
women and men, particularly among parents, teachers, career counsellors and other advisers;
and encouraging interaction between educational systems, the private sector and civil society, as
(dd) Adopt policies and mechanisms to recognize women’s prior learning and management skills,
including those gained from informal and/or unpaid work, especially for women who discontinued
their education or employment for various reasons, so as to facilitate their access to education,
training and employment opportunities;
(ee) Improve access to gender-sensitive career counselling and to job search support services and
include job readiness and job search skills in curricula for secondary and higher education and
vocational training, in order to facilitate the transition from school to work and re-entry into the labour
market for women of all ages;
(ff) Work to eliminate occupational and sectoral segregation and the gender pay gap by recognizing
the value of sectors that have large numbers of women workers, such as care and other service
areas, improving career pathways and working conditions and undertaking, evaluating and, where
necessary, reviewing legislation, policies and programmes, public awareness campaigns and other
measures, such as career management, to promote women’s entry into non-traditional sectors;
(gg) Promote the reconciliation of work and family responsibilities for women and men, as well as the
equal sharing of employment and family responsibilities between women and men, including by:
designing, implementing and promoting family-friendly legislation, policies and services, such as
affordable, accessible and quality care services for children and other dependent persons, and
parental and other leave schemes; undertaking campaigns to sensitize public opinion and other
relevant actors to these issues; and promoting measures that reconcile care and professional life
and emphasize men’s equal responsibilities with respect to household work;
(hh) Develop or strengthen policies and programmes to support the multiple roles of women in society,
including in the fields of science and technology, in order to increase women’s and girls’ access
to education, training, science and technology, while acknowledging the social significance of
maternity and motherhood, parenting and the role of parents and other guardians in the upbringing
of the children and caring for other family members, and ensure that such policies and programmes
also promote shared responsibility of parents, women and men and society as a whole;
(ii) Encourage employers and research funding agencies to establish flexible and non-discriminatory
work policies and arrangements for both women and men, such as time extension on research
grants for pregnant researchers, leave schemes, quality care services and social protection policies,
in order to improve the retention and progression of women in science and technology;
60 applyiNg a gENdEr lENs TO sciENcE, TEchNOlOgy aNd iNNOvaTiON
(jj) Implement gender-sensitive policies and programmes for women migrant workers and provide safe
and legal channels that recognize their skills and education and fair labour conditions, facilitate their
productive employment and decent work and integration into the labour force, including, inter alia,
in the fields of education and science and technology, and ensure that all women, including care
workers, are legally protected against violence and exploitation;
Increasing retention and progression of women in science and technology employment
(kk) Encourage workplace environments and institutional practices that value all members and offer
them equal opportunities to reach their full potential, ensuring that gender equality and gender
mainstreaming are considered a necessary dimension of human resources management, in
particular for the modernization of scientific and technological organizations and institutions, both in
the public and private sectors;
(ll) Encourage the use of clear and transparent criteria for, and promote the achievement of gender
balance in, recruitment, promotion and recognition in science and technology, both in the public and
private sectors; train and sensitize leadership and staff, at all levels, in gender mainstreaming and
gender equality issues and prevent direct and indirect discrimination against women; and support
the building of leadership skills for women;
(mm) Develop career advisory, networking and mentoring programmes, including programmes
that utilize information and communications technology; support role models and facilitate
programmes that link women scientists around the world; and promote measures to improve
female retention and progression in the fields of science and technology, with a special focus on
women scientists in tertiary education and early-stage career and women re-entering science and
(nn) Take steps to ensure that science, technology and innovation policies take into account and address
the specific constraints faced by women entrepreneurs and facilitate their access to credit, training,
information and business support services, including those provided in technology parks and
business incubator centres;
(oo) Set concrete goals, targets and benchmarks, as appropriate, while supporting a merit-based
approach, to achieve equal participation of women and men in decision-making at all levels,
especially in science and technology institutions, such as science academies, research funding
institutions, academia and the public and private sectors, as well as in the design of science and
technology policies and research and development agenda setting;
Making science and technology responsive to women’s needs
(pp) Utilize the full potential of science and technology, including in engineering and mathematics, and
their innovations to deliver improvements in infrastructure and sectors such as energy, transportation,
agriculture, nutrition, health, water and sanitation and information and communications technology,
in order, inter alia, to eradicate poverty, promote social development and achieve women’s economic
(qq) Create awareness of the needs of women in science and technology, including by encouraging the
media to sponsor popular science programming, and report on the differential impact of science and
technology on women and men;
(rr) Encourage the integration of a gender perspective in the science and technology curricula throughout
all stages of education and continuous learning, and the use of gender-based analysis and gender
impact assessments in research and development in science and technology, and promote a user
driven approach to technology development in order to increase the relevance and usefulness of
advancements in science and technology for both women and men;
(ss) Respect, preserve and maintain women’s traditional knowledge and innovation while recognizing the
potential of rural and indigenous women to contribute to the production of science and technology
and of new knowledge to improve their lives and those of their families and communities;
(tt) Formulate and implement public policies that increase women’s and girls’ access to digital
technologies, including through conducting local communications campaigns.
23. The Commission recognizes the need for the compilation and sharing of good practice examples and
lessons learned in mainstreaming a gender perspective into science, technology and innovation policies
and programmes, with a view to replicating and scaling up successes, and in this regard looks forward to
any steps or actions that could be taken by the relevant United Nations bodies, especially the Commission
on Science and Technology for Development.