The Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology, Uche Nnaji has expressed concern over the low representation of women and girls in science-related courses and professions.
He described the current situation in Nigeria as worrisome, emphasising that the country has not yet attained gender equality in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
His remarks were part of the commemoration of this year’s International Day for Women and Girls in Science, themed “Women and Girls in Science Leadership — a New Era for Sustainability.”
Nnaji, in his broadcast message posted on his X official account on Sunday, acknowledged the progress made but highlighted the persistent challenge of achieving true gender equality, with women often sidelined on crucial STEM issues.
Expressing his commitment to fostering an inclusive environment, he assured young girls aspiring to pursue careers in science that their curiosity, intellect, and passion were significant.
He noted that those aspiring scientists were not merely the scientists of tomorrow but were already making valuable contributions.
He said, “Despite strides towards progress, gender equality in STEM remains an elusive goal, as women are usually relegated to the background on key STEM issues.”
Nnaji pointed out that “harnessing the transformative power of Science and Technology implies that every voice, regardless of gender, is heard and valued”.
He assured girls dreaming of a future in science that their curiosity, intellect and passion mattered “and they are not just scientists of tomorrow, but are the scientists of today”.
He urged women that were already paving the way in science to recognise the significance of uplifting others as they progress.
“Let us break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create pathways for success for all,” he admonished.
According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics and the Financial Institutions Training Centre, approximately 22 per cent of STEM graduates in Nigeria are women.
UNESCO, in its report ‘Cracking the Code: Girls’ and Women’s Education in STEM’, revealed that only 35 per cent of STEM students in higher education globally were women.
UNESCO notes that a strong gender imbalance existed globally, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, concerning women’s representation in STEM fields.