UNOOSA celebrates International Women’s Day



In recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8, UNOOSA and fellow agencies at the United Nations Office in Vienna have released a video highlighting successes and addressing challenges faced by women in their respective fields.

Since the early days of space exploration, women have been leaders and trailblazers in space, and have made significant contributions to cultural, technological, and exploratory milestones in the field. In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova made history as the first woman cosmonaut, and since then, 65 women from 9 countries have been to space as payload specialists, pilots, scientists, and commanders of the International Space Station. Even before humans left Earth, women scientists, engineers, and mathematicians were instrumental in helping build the systems and complete the calculations that later enabled the first space flights. African-American women Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were essential to the mission of NASA in their roles as “human computers” that allowed the first crewed spaceflight program in the United States to take place. Today, women and girls around the world are more involved in space applications than ever before, developing new technologies for spacesuits, using satellite data to improve life on earth, and researching the psychological effects of prolonged space travel, among many important projects.

The history of advancements in space technologies and space exploration highlights the vital role that women have had in addressing science and technology objectives in space over the last 60 years. Achieving the ambitious goals in space exploration, cooperation, and technological deployment of the 21st century requires the equal participation of women. Despite these needs, women today remain underrepresented in the science and engineering fields that these goals rely on. Less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women, and numerous studies have found that women in STEM fields publish less, are paid less, and do not as advance as far in their fields as their male colleagues.

This International Women’s Day, UNOOSA reaffirms our commitment to a gender equal world, and to the Space for Women initiative that believes gender equality should extend beyond Earth’s boundaries.

Click the image above to watch the video and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WeMustDoBetter.