Space4Women is a United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) project that facilitates access to the benefits of space exploration, science and technology, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and STEM careers for women and girls around the world.
As the gateway to space within the United Nations, UNOOSA works to bring the benefits of space science and technology to everyone, everywhere. Space4Women strengthens the awareness, capacity, and skills of individuals and institutions to promote gender equality and women's empowerment in STEM fields with a special focus on the space sector.
Space4Women action areas include:
- Communicating the opportunities of STEM education, and facilitating access to space education and careers.
- Providing policy-relevant advice, knowledge management, and evidence-based awareness raising, research and data to institutions and governments on “Space for Women” and “Women for Space.”
- Facilitating capacity-building and training of individuals on access to and use of space-technology to train, generate skills, and foster knowledge.
- Promoting a mentoring platform and a Space4Women Network for advocacy and awareness raising.
- Empowering young women and girls to be both the beneficiary of, and an active and integral contributor to space solutions.
Women's empowerment is a precondition for the successful achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, Space4Women addresses SDG 4: Quality Education, and SDG 5: Gender Equality. Space4Women, developed in partnership with Women in Aerospace, supports the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space thematic priority 7 (TP7) "capacity-building for the twenty-first century," for the implementation of UNISPACE+50, with a special focus on empowerment of women in developing countries.
Gender inequality is a long-standing and widespread issue in education and careers in STEM fields within both developed and developing countries. Recent research shows that women are still visibly underrepresented as researchers in STEM fields in all regions, with the world’s average of only 28.8 percent. Overall, the number of women in the aerospace industry have fluctuated at around 20 percent for at least 30 years and among astronauts, only 11 percent have been women.
Although women represent half the world's population, STEM fields, which are known for advancing human ingenuity and potential, are not fully representing what women and girls can offer.
There are several factors influencing low participation rates of women and girls in STEM education and the workforce. These include:
- Fewer female teachers in STEM subjects
- Inequality in the labour market and wage gaps
- Gender stereotypes
- Limited opportunities for career counselling, scholarships, and mentoring for women in STEM
- Lack of role models and limited understanding of the value of STEM fields
Several resources for women and girls are accessible through the Space4Women Discussion Forum.
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) works to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use and exploration of space, and in the utilisation of space exploration, science, and technology for sustainable socioeconomic development. The Office assists United Nations Member States to establish legal and regulatory frameworks to govern space activities and strengthens the capacity of developing countries to use space science technology and applications for development by helping to integrate space capabilities into national development programmes.
UNOOSA also serves as the secretariat for the UN General Assembly's Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), uses space to support sustainable development, and provides capacity-building to bridge the space divide.
UNOOSA, in its roles as a capacity-builder and promoter of international cooperation in space, has a strong interest in bringing more girls and young women into STEM, both as part of the broader UN effort to combat gender inequality, and to improve access to the benefits of space to everyone, everywhere. Space4Women helps address the gender gap, to strengthen awareness, capacity, and skills of individuals and institutions, with emphasis on promoting gender equality and equal access to opportunities in STEM education and the space sector.