Gender Summit #GS5Africa will explore sustainable development through gendered research and innovation
In Cape Town, scientists, gender scholars and policymakers will discuss how to build Africa’s future with science that is inclusive of women
By Elizabeth Pollitzer, PhD Posted on 14 April 2015
In 2105, the eight UN Millennium Development Goalswill be replaced by the 17Sustainable Development Goals, which will mark a new 15-year period ofglobal effort to make the world a better place for more people. Targeted foraction are poverty and hunger, societal and economic advancement, human rights,food security and nutrition, access to health and education, access to freshwater and energy, protection of environment, mitigation of climate change – andgender equality and empowerment of women.
How we approach these goals will be important. Atits core, sustainable development is about “meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability offuture generations to meet their own needs,” in the words of a 1987 report by the WorldCommission on Environment and Development that continue to resonate today.Here, the gender equality condition holds a unique position because itinfluences all aspects of human lives and is, therefore, key to achievingsustainability. It is the catalyst that can speed up change by involving bothwomen and men in the decision process and by incorporating into development interventionsand measures scientific understanding of when and how gender differencesdetermine quality of outcomes for women and men. Sustainability can be betterachieved when women and men can equally benefit from development.
To participate in the Gender Summit - Africa
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The GenderSummit – Africa (#GS5Africa), in Cape Town, South Africa, April 28 to 30,will examine many of the issues covered by the Sustainable Development Goals byintroducing the benefits of gendered research and innovation into the discussionof the challenges facing societies in Africa. Gendered research and innovationis about incorporating understanding of how biological, socio-cultural andenvironmental factors influence human behavior and create differences inoutcomes for women and men.
The barriers to gender equality in Africa are manyand severe, and are often different to the gender conditions found in otherglobal regions. They include high incidence of HIV/AIDS, political conflicts,poverty, harmful traditional practices, refugee and internal displacement,violence, including rapes and killings, exclusion from politics anddecision-making, limited access by girls to education, and illiteracy. TheGender Summit – Africa will examine the benefits of integrating considerationsof sex and gender into science knowledge making that is focused on the needs ofAfrica, and aims to benefit local populations, women and men.
We established the Gender Summit in Europe in 2011, but since then, ithas expanded to North America, and this year, we are introducing it to Africaand Asia. (Gender Summit 6Asia Pacific 2015 will be August 27-28 in Seoul, South Korea.) The leadpartner in bringing Gender Summit to Africa is the South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, which isworking in partnership with key science institutions in the region and beyond.
As part of the three-day program, participantswill examine new research evidence showing the benefits of scientific inclusionand diversity. They will discuss how to close gender gaps in researchmethodologies, in particular in the context of research priorities in Africa,such as nutrition, adaptation to climate change, prevention of tropicaldiseases, and causes and consequences of violence against women.
The summit will also examine the benefits of applying sex and genderanalysis to understand how they shape people’s lives. An important goal of the summitis to start the process of building African gender expertise and leadership toadvance women’s participation in science in Africa, and create organisationalcapacity to promote awareness of gender issues in different science,technology, engineering and medical fields.
Gender inequalities are pervasive around the world, and the evolution ofthe Gender Summit into a global movement provides an opportunity for developingnew international collaborations to solve common gender problems in research,innovation and development. The speakers at the Gender Summit – Africa includetop-level scientists, gender scholars and policymakers working in Africa, andin other regions. They will discuss how to build local scientific human capitalthat is inclusive of women and of other underrepresented groups and can respondeffectively to Africa’s needs.
An important contribution this Gender Summit will make is improvedscientific understanding of the dynamics between the role of the socio-culturalgender norms and how to transform traditional beliefs into gender equalityvalues that can achieve sustainable development agendas and interventions. Ifyou are a practitioner in the development area, you will benefit from theknowledge exchange sessions to share experience of integrating gender equalityapproaches in engineering, mathematics, agriculture, science education, cityenvironments, and other areas.
We hope you will be able to attend the Gender Summit – Africa, and ifnot, that you will participate on social media and follow its objectives andoutcomes through the Gender Summitwebsite.
Prof. Olive Shisana, Chief Executive Officer of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in South Africa and one of the convening partners of the Gender Summit Africa, welcomes colleagues to the Summit.
Support from the Elsevier Foundation
Both Elsevier and The Elsevier Foundation's New Scholars program have been strong supporters of the Gender Summit since 2011. Ylann Schemm (@ylannschemm), Program Director of the Elsevier Foundation, said: "The Gender Summit serves as a catalyst for scientists and policymakers, informing new policies and funding frameworks whether in Brussels or Cape Town.” She will share the Elsevier Foundation’s most recent African program, “Publishers without Borders” on April 28. In 2011, Portia Ltd. received a $130,000 grant from the Elsevier Foundation New Scholars program for its Scenario Toolkit for Advancing Careers in Science.
Elsevier Connect Contributor
Dr. Elizabeth Pollitzer is director of Portia Ltd., a London-based nonprofit organization focused on improving gender equality in science and inclusion of gender dimension in research and innovation content. She has served as "architect" of the Gender Summit since its inception in 2011, guiding its focus on gender issues in research and innovation and helping to bring together the scientists, policy makers, gender scholars and others groups in the science system).