For information only - not an official document

11 February 2019

Remarks of the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov:

Event by UN Office for Outer Space Affiars (UNOOSA) to mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science

11 February 2019

VIENNA, 11 February (UN Information Service) - In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space, orbiting the Earth forty-eight times in Vostok Six. She made this historic journey just two years after Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

Despite this trailblazing start, the history of space flight and tech has been dominated by men.

Women remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, accounting for less than a third of science researchers. This is to the detriment of these fields and to our societies as a whole.

An estimated 90% of future jobs will require ICT skills, and some two million new jobs will be created in STEM-related fields.

Through STEM education, women can develop the skills to be part of and benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Space research and technology can help address key development challenges, including natural disaster mitigation, education and access to services such as health care, agriculture, food security and clean energy.

The SDGs, in particular Goal Four on education and Goal Five on gender equality, recognize the importance of engaging women and girls and promoting their full participation.

Targets under SDG Five call for enhancing the use of enabling technology to promote the empowerment of women.

In this regard I welcome the commitment of the Office for Outer Space Affairs to fostering the active and equal role of women and girls in space science, innovation and exploration.

The Space for Women project can help promote the use of space technology in line with the SDGs, and facilitate access to opportunities in STEM education and the space sector.

This initiative is very much in line with what we are doing at the UN Office at Vienna and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to promote and achieve gender equality in our operations and to mainstream gender across our work, in line with the priorities of the Secretary-General.

We have adopted a Strategy and action plan for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, which provide a systematic framework that sets institutional standards and defines our commitments through clear goals, responsibilities and timelines.

Achieving gender parity in our own operations is critical as we seek to enhance our effectiveness and support Member States to achieve the SDGs.

The Office for Outer Space Affairs plays an important role in our efforts, and I am grateful for your leadership in promoting these commitments, here on earth and in space.

I thank you once again for this useful event, and I wish you fruitful discussions.

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For further information please contact:

Sonya Yee
Speechwriter and Spokesperson, UNODC
Phone: (+43 1) 26060-4990
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-4990
Email: sonya.yee[at]