UCL School of Pharmacy


Third International Day of Women & Girls in Science marked at United Nations

22 February 2018

Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals.

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated each year on 11 February, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.

To mark the third International Day of Women & Girls in Science (#IDWGS2018), Oksana Pyzik, Global Engagement Coordinator and Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL School of Pharmacy, addressed the United Nations in New York.

The IDWGS Forum was organized by the Republic of Malta and the Royal Academy of Science International Trust under the vision and leadership of the RASIT Executive Director HRH Princess Dr Nisreen El-Hashemite, granddaughter of King Faisal Bin El-Sharif Hussein, the first King of Iraq and founder of the Modern State of Iraq.

She is the first Royal Princess in the world to be qualified in science and medicine, with a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, Master of Science, Medical Doctorate (MD) and a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Human Genetics and is the President of the Women in Science International League.

HRH Princess Dr Nisreen El-Hashemite speaking to some young STEM scientists

Photo: HRH Princess Dr Nisreen El-Hashemite with some young STEM scientists

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, opened the third Commemoration with a central theme of “Equality and Parity in Science for Peace and Development” which ran from February 8th – 11th. 

Oksana delivered a speech titled “Advancing Women in Science & Leadership” and in her call to action highlighted the growing gender gap in the areas of income and health: “Given the continued widening of the economic gender gap, it will now not be closed for another 217 years. With further statistics from the International Labour Organization, suggesting that closing the employment gender gap by 25% worldwide would boost global employment by 189 million - raising the global GDP by 3.9% or US $5.8 trillion by 2025, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.”

Oksana Pyzik at UN

Oksana concluded with these powerful words: “Science has been one of the greatest liberators of women in history, and I believe ‘women in science’ will topple the remaining inequalities, driving the social change alongside partners in government and the United Nations, and in doing so redefine the very nature of leadership itself.”

See official coverage of the speech by UN Web TV here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLdFoZAnpVA

The 2018 Forum brought together policy-makers, Ministers, Senior Officials, and women in science experts, ranging from the life sciences to the applied and social sciences, to propose an International Framework and Action Plan for Equality and Parity.

Oksana’s policy recommendation to introduce a gender parity prize in science to be awarded on the International Day of Women & Girls in Science was accepted by Member States and has been incorporated into the Outcome Document. This document formed the basis of the first political declaration of its kind to be signed by 70 countries with co-sponsorship open until the end of February. 

His Excellency Ambassador Allen of the Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN was one of the first to sign the declaration, and Ambassador Shabazz, the daughter of the late Malcolm X, also lent her powerful voice in an emotive speech to ministers and forum delegates.

UCL made history as the first university in England to admit and teach women on equal terms in 1878, and now the UCL School of Pharmacy is making history again with Oksana’s input into the first political declaration on gender equality for women in science.  As a University, we are proud to be pioneers of equality in higher education and 140 years on we continue to lead in global advocacy for women in science.

Oksana with Ambassador Attallah Shabazz and another delegate

Photo: Oksana meeting Ambassador Attallah Shabazz

Oksana with UN Women Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka

Photo: Oksana meeting the UN Women Chief of Staff, Khetsiwe Dlamini

Contact: Ms Oksana Pyzik staff profile