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 Goals will be replaced by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which will mark a new 15-year period of global effort to make the world a better place for more people. Targeted for action are poverty and hunger, societal and economic advancement, human rights, food security and nutrition, access to health and education, access to fresh water and energy, protection of environment, mitigation of climate change – and gender equality and empowerment of women.
How we approach these goals will be important. At its core, sustainable development is about “meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” in the words of a 1987 report by the World Commission on Environment and Development that continue to resonate today. Here, the gender equality condition holds a unique position because it influences all aspects of human lives and is, therefore, key to achieving sustainability. It is the catalyst that can speed up change by involving both women and men in the decision process and by incorporating into development interventions and measures scientific understanding of when and how gender differences determine quality of outcomes for women and men. Sustainability can be better achieved when women and men can equally benefit from development.
To participate in the Gender Summit - Africa
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The Gender Summit – Africa (#GS5Africa), in Cape Town, South Africa, April 28 to 30, will examine many of the issues covered by the Sustainable Development Goals by introducing the benefits of gendered research and innovation into the discussion of the challenges facing societies in Africa. Gendered research and innovation is about incorporating understanding of how biological, socio-cultural and environmental factors influence human behavior and create differences in outcomes for women and men.
The barriers to gender equality in Africa are many and severe, and are often different to the gender conditions found in other global 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 and decision-making, limited access by girls to education, and illiteracy. The Gender Summit – Africa will examine the benefits of integrating considerations of sex and gender into science knowledge making that is focused on the needs of Africa, and aims to benefit local populations, women and men.
We established the Gender Summit in Europe in 2011, but since then, it has expanded to North America, and this year, we are introducing it to Africa and Asia. (Gender Summit 6 Asia Pacific 2015 will be August 27-28 in Seoul, South Korea.) The lead partner in bringing Gender Summit to Africa is the South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, which is working in partnership with key science institutions in the region and beyond.
As part of the three-day program, participants will examine new research evidence showing the benefits of scientific inclusion and diversity. They will discuss how to close gender gaps in research methodologies, in particular in the context of research priorities in Africa, such as nutrition, adaptation to climate change, prevention of tropical diseases, and causes and consequences of violence against women.
The summit will also examine the benefits of applying sex and gender analysis to understand how they shape people’s lives. An important goal of the summit is to start the process of building African gender expertise and leadership to advance women’s participation in science in Africa, and create organisational capacity to promote awareness of gender issues in different science, technology, engineering and medical fields.
Gender inequalities are pervasive around the world, and the evolution of the Gender Summit into a global movement provides an opportunity for developing new international collaborations to solve common gender problems in research, innovation and development. The speakers at the Gender Summit – Africa include top-level scientists, gender scholars and policymakers working in Africa, and in other regions. They will discuss how to build local scientific human capital that is inclusive of women and of other underrepresented groups and can respond effectively to Africa’s needs.
An important contribution this Gender Summit will make is improved scientific understanding of the dynamics between the role of the socio-cultural gender norms and how to transform traditional beliefs into gender equality values that can achieve sustainable development agendas and interventions. If you are a practitioner in the development area, you will benefit from the knowledge exchange sessions to share experience of integrating gender equality approaches in engineering, mathematics, agriculture, science education, city environments, and other areas.
We hope you will be able to attend the Gender Summit – Africa, and if not, that you will participate on social media and follow its objectives and outcomes through the Gender Summit website.
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).
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