Women in STEM

Welcome address at the Filipina STEM Leaders Forum

By the Mr Ola Almgren, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in the Philippines at the Filipina STEM Leaders Forum in celebration of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Taguig City, Philippines, 22 February 2019

  • Undersecretary John Henry Naga of the Department of Information and Communications Technology
  • Deputy Director General Rosanna Urdaneta of the Technical Education Skills Development Authority
  • Mr Philip Roskamp, Public Affairs Counsellor of the Embassy of the United States
  • Mr Carlos Mendoza, Head of Banking and Deputy SCO of JP Morgan Chase
  • Assistant Secretary Alex Avila, Department of Labor and Employment
  • Mr Tony Asper, Vice President of the Federation of Free Workers
  • Mr Roland Moya, Director General of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines
  • Our distinguished panel of women technology leaders from IBM, Accenture, Pointwest, Women who Code
  • Our tripartite partners from government, labor, and employer organizations
  • Members of the United Nations, International Organizations
  • Women Leaders, Diversity and Inclusivity Leaders of the Information Technology and the Business Processing Management Industries.
  • Distinguished partners and guests,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po!
Magandang umaga po. Welcome to the celebration of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Today we mark this exciting day in the Philippines with the International Labour Organization Women in STEM Workforce Readiness and Development Programme, in cooperation with the Embassy of the United States of America, and JP Morgan Chase, our host.

Let me thank and congratulate my colleagues the International Labour Organization for bringing together government, labour and employer representatives, the international development community, and most importantly women tech leaders and students, in recognizing and celebrating the journeys and challenges of women in STEM.

The Women in STEM Programme seeks to provide women with critical soft and technical skills to help women gain quality employment and support career advancement of women, particularly in the fields of information technology. The programme in collaboration with key partners such as TESDA and the Department of Information and Communication Technology, provides scholarships for information and communication technology (ICT) education and soft skills training for girls and women who are employed or aim to be employed in a STEM sector. The goal of the Programme and our goal as international development community is to get more girls and women interested, trained, graduated and employed in the future of work in STEM.

The SDGs of Decent work, Innovation and Gender Equality

Let me also link this to the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. There are three critical sustainable development goals which connect directly with the UN International Day of Girls and Women in Science. SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, SDG 8- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work, and SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. Despite the concerted efforts of the global community to engage more girls and women in science and technology, women and girls still remain underrepresented in these areas so more needs to be done.

In January, ILO launched the Global Commission on the Future of Work Report. According to the Report, women continue to have to adjust to a world of work shaped by men for men. While many doors have opened to improve women’s participation in the labour market, women still perform three-quarters of all unpaid home care. The struggle for gender equality remain in large part a ‘women’s issue”. Simply persisting with the approaches of the past decades will not work. Policy makers, employers, workers and civil society need to focus on developing policies and programmes that are able to create long-term change for girls and women.

Women as Game Changers in Technology

Today, you all have an opportunity to meet a number of women game changers in the Philippines who are bringing diversity, creativity and innovation in the role of women in the world of work. In the Filipina STEM Leaders Forum, we shine the light on four remarkable women from IBM, Accenture, Pointwest and Women Who Code Manila, who are leading global technology companies and organizations. They are role models for so many women and girls out there not only in their own companies and organizations but in the whole country as well. More role models like them are needed to inspire women to join and stay in technology. In the afternoon, there will be a special screening and career forum for the 20th Century movie Hidden Figures, sponsored by Embassy of the United States and American Spaces.

Technology and Gender Equality

Technology plays a key role in achieving decent work and gender equality. Technological advances including artificial intelligence, cloud computing and robotic process automation are significantly changing jobs and companies in the Philippines. According to the ILO Future of Work Report, as technology changes the face of the workplace today, there is a need for a transformative agenda for gender equality. Specific measures are needed to ensure equal opportunity and treatment of women in the technology-enabled jobs of today and tomorrow.

To quote our United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutierres, on this International Day, we urge commitment to end bias, greater investments in STEM education for all women and girls as well as opportunities for their careers and longer-term professional advancement, so that all can benefit from their ground-breaking future contributions.

Harnessing Women Potential for Science Advancement

So let us all work together with government, workers, employers, women organizations and international organizations to ensure that girls and women are not left behind. That they too reach their full potential, as we reach for the sustainable development goals, close the gender gap, for women to advance their careers through decent work.

Maraming salamat po.