The National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) is established under the Science, Technology and Innovation Act, 2013 (Rev. 2014) with a unique mandate of regulating and assuring quality in the research, science, technology and innovation (STI) sector, and advising the Government in matters related thereto. In so doing, the Commission Regulates, Coordinates, Advises and Promotes Research, Science, Technology and Innovation activities in the country.
NACOSTI’s mandate places the institution at the core of ensuring that all sector players contribute towards a knowledge driven economy for the realization of the country’s national long term development blueprint, the Vision 2030. The Vision 2030 recognizes STI as one of the critical foundations for catalyzing productivity and efficiency across all sectors of the economy. Realization of the Vision is, therefore, hinged on development and application of STI given the transformative effect of technological tools and innovations in providing solutions to address poverty and improve people’s wellbeing.
Acknowledging the persistent gender inequalities in STI, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and careers, NACOSTI has been instrumental in championing women to take up active roles in the STI sector in the quest to achieve gender equality. As we celebrate the 8th International Day of Women and Girls in Science this year, we wish to highlight some of the programmes that have provided great avenues for women’s participation and contribution in STI.
In line with Section 6 of the STI Act, NACOSTI has since 2014 to 2020, coordinated a holistic STEM Mentorship Programme bringing together public and private sector players to enhance the participation and performance of girls in STEM subjects. The programme provides a unique model for scientific camps of excellence to unlock the potential of girls to embrace STEM education and careers. Using role models to demonstrate the importance of STEM education in creating successful career pathways for female scientists in the public and private sector, the programme has contributed to a reduction in negative perceptions and beliefs which hinder effective participation of girls in STEM education.
As a focal point to international conventions and programmes such as the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), NACOSTI has availed opportunities to female scientists in various fields of scientific research and other careers. Under BWC, female scientists have been actively engaged in preparation and submission of Confidence building Measures, preparation of Country statements and Intervention statements during the meetings of Experts, States Parties and Review Conferences of the Convention.
In 2022, IAEA, provided training opportunities for female scientists to equip them with knowledge and skills needed to improve their contribution in science education and research. One such training opportunity was awarded to two female teachers from two secondary schools to participate in a two weeks training of trainers on Nuclear Instrumentation Educational Kit. The training was held in Seibersdorf, Austria on 4th-15th July 2022.
The opportunities provided through ICGEB have contributed to the promotion, development, production, and wide application of biotechnology in key socioeconomic sectors such as agriculture and health. This has resulted into innovations which have catalyzed agricultural productivity, improved incomes and efficiency with notable impact on poverty reduction initiatives. Further, research outputs from ICGEB female-led programmes have contributed to the growing scientific body through publications in peer reviewed journals, knowledge transfer and acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories. Some of the ongoing female-led programmes are focusing on research on cancer genomics and on generation of cyanogen free Cassava with reduced post-harvest physiological deterioration through gene specific genome editing. NACOSTI commits to continue empowering and championing women to take up more active roles in STI, in a quest to achieve gender equality.